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Bill seeks to update drug-impaired driving laws in New York

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  • Staff Report 

In New York, a proposed bill aims to combat the issue of drug-impaired driving by updating the state’s outdated laws. The legislation, introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, seeks to expand the definition of “drug” to include any substance that impairs physical or mental abilities. This move comes in response to the influx of synthetic drugs and the challenges in prosecuting impaired drivers under the current legal framework.

Lawmakers have expressed concerns that the existing list of illegal drugs is easily circumvented by drug manufacturers who frequently modify the chemical composition of their products. This practice makes it difficult for law enforcement to keep up and effectively prosecute those driving under the influence of these ever-changing substances.

The bill also proposes redefining impairment and intoxication to aid in identifying and punishing impaired drivers more effectively. Critics of the bill argue that it lacks an objective method for diagnosing impairment, relying instead on judgment calls by law enforcement. However, supporters, including Magnarelli, emphasize the necessity of adapting the law to better address the realities of drug use and impaired driving, with the ultimate goal of preventing individuals from driving under the influence. The bill is currently under review in committee stages in both the Assembly and the Senate.