New York’s drug and alcohol laws have a strange history. In the early 70s, the governor backed get tough legislature. The law imposed mandatory sentences for even minor drug possession charges. Since then, New York has changed its drug and alcohol laws several times. So, if you’re wondering where things stand now, keep reading for a quick overview.

DUI Laws in New York

DUI laws in New York are similar to most other states. The seriousness of the crime depends on your blood alcohol content or BAC. There are three basic levels the state uses.

  • A BAC of 0.5 – 0.7 is driving while ability impaired by alcohol
  • BAC over 0.8 is driving while intoxicated
  • A BAC over 1.8 is aggravated driving while intoxicated

Each level comes with a fine and potential jail time. If you get convicted for the same crime again, the fines and jail time goes up.

Zero Tolerance Laws for New York

New York uses a zero tolerance law for drivers under 21-years-old. The state uses three levels for offenses that are driving:

  • After having consumed alcohol
  • Wving while ability impaired by alcohol
  • While intoxicated

Driving after having consumed alcohol means you have a BAC between 0.2 and 0.7. It gets you an administrative hearing with the DMV for first offenses. A BAC of 0.5 to 0.8 is a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and dealt with as a crime. A BAC over 0.8 is DWI and is also dealt with in criminal court. Breaking the zero tolerance laws won’t get you jail time. Each offense does come with higher fines. It also means you lose your license for longer and longer.

Is Marijuana Legal in New York?

Marijuana is not legal in New York. What has changed in the last year is the way New York treats marijuana possession. The state government passed a law that makes possession of marijuana in amounts under 2 oz. a violation. Violations can still get you arrested, but generally only come with a fine. The state is also sealing or expunging records related to these types of possession arrests.

Drug and Alcohol Related Crimes

Most alcohol related crimes in New York deal with driving, since using alcohol is legal. You can get arrested for public intoxication, though. Drug related crimes are complicated. A few of the more common crimes include:

  • Possession
  • Possession with intent to sell
  • Drug trafficking

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in New York

The penalties for drug and alcohol crimes vary a lot depending on the crime itself and the drug. For example, your first conviction for DWI gets:

  • Your license revoked for six months
  • $500-$1000 fine
  • Up to a year in prison

Possession of marijuana under 2 oz. gets you a $50 – $200. Possession of 500 mg of cocaine can get you 1 – 2.5 years in prison and a $5000 fine. Selling even tiny amounts of any drugs can get you the same sentence and fine. Selling larger amounts or selling to anyone under 17 gets you 9 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. Drug trafficking can get you 15 years – life in prison and a $100,000 fine.

New York’s drug and alcohol laws are still tough on some things. Drug trafficking or multiple DWI convictions will get you long sentences and big fines. The state has softened its attitude toward marijuana however. Gone are the days of huge sentences for having a dime bag. Possession of small amounts might get you arrested, but you won’t serve serious time. As a rule, you’ll get slapped with a fine and sent on your way.



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