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Prescription Drugs and DUI (DWI) in New York

Under New York law, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any drugs. There is no distinction between legal and illegal substances as long as it impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle. The definition for what constitutes being impaired by drugs is the following: A medication should be capable of affecting the nervous system, brain, or muscles of an individual as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his or her ability to drive a vehicle within the manner that any ordinarily prudent and cautious individual, in full possession of his faculties, utilizing reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle beneath like conditions.

Some prescription drugs are known to affect your ability to drive, and usually the drug has a warning on the label (that may be in small print) that informs you that operating a vehicle should be avoided while under the influence of said drug. Sedatives and antihistamines are usually the most harmful drugs that should be avoided while driving. Criminal and administrative penalties for driving while ability impaired by a drug are the same as the penalties for driving while intoxicated.


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