What changes with New York’s new marijuana law?

A new law in New York has reduced penalties for some charges of marijuana possession and will expunge some conviction records, but pot is still illegal and a DWAI conviction can carry serious consequences with it.

As residents in New York watch several other states and even the District of Columbia pass legislation that legalizes the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, they may wonder when or if their own state may ever pass such a law. An attempt to do so was made this year but fell short of that goal. The new law, however, did come with some changes that people in the state should be aware of.

Expungements and reduced penalties

Previously, a charge of possession of marijuana was classified as a misdemeanor regardless of how much of the substance a person has. AM New York explains that the law passed this summer changes that misdemeanor status to a mere violation in cases where a person has less than two ounces of pot.

Fines associated with a pot violation will be less than the prior misdemeanor fines with the maximum fine reaching $200. Some fines could be as low as $50 depending on the quantity of pot in a person's possession.

A violation will not result in a criminal record like a misdemeanor. Many people who have previous misdemeanor convictions on their record will see those records automatically removed. The expungements will apply to cases involving up to 25 grams of marijuana.

Drugged driving

The new law does not change anything when it comes to driving a motor vehicle after using pot in any form. The New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services indicates that concerns about pot use and driving stem from the effect marijuana has on a driver. Marijuana may impact a person's ability to identify speed and time and may reduce their ability to concentrate or be fully attentive to driving.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that even a first conviction for driving while ability impaired due to marijuana could result in a person's driver's license being revoked for six or more months. A driver convicted of driving while under the influence of pot may even be sentenced to spend as much as a whole year in jail. While a first DWAI-drug is a misdemeanor, subsequent offenses that occur within 10 years are felonies.

Legal help is recommended

People in New York who have been arrested and charged with a marijuana-related offense should always consult with an attorney experienced in defending these types of cases. Having a professional on their side is the best way to get access to accurate information, especially as laws continue to change.