So you have been charged in New York with Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (VTL 1192(4) or VTL 1192(4-a) if it’s a combination of drugs and alcohol) – specifically, the drug you are alleged to have ingested is cocaine. What comes next? Many times the officer who makes the initial stop is not a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) so he might call for one to come to the scene. I will discuss DREs in a later blog. But typically, the arresting officer makes a few observations – dilated pupils, fidgety, talkative and of course, you admit to ingesting cocaine.

Once the arresting officer has your admission that you ingested cocaine, he will ask for a urine sample as opposed to a breath sample in a typical Driving While Intoxicated case. However, unlike a Breathalyzer test which supposedly can give a definitive Blood Alcohol Concentration based upon the alcohol present in your lower lung air, the urine test for cocaine can only tell us that there are cocaine metabolites in your urine thus establishing that the drug was used at some point in the past.

In fact, unlike with alcohol where the Legislature has set a .08 % blood alcohol content, as a cut off above which you are presumed intoxicated, with drugs, there is no such line of demarcation. Therefore, not only must the prosecution prove that you ingested a drug, they must also prove that such ingestion impaired your ability to drive with no regard for the amount of the drug in your system. In other words, there is no law in New York that says if one has a certain amount of nanograms per milliliter of urine, they are presumed impaired.

This proves very beneficial for the defendant because, the presence of cocaine metabolites in one’s urine only indicates that the drug was used in the past. No conclusion can be drawn about the degree on one’s impairment from the cocaine, if any, at the time of the urine testing. In fact, the amount of cocaine metabolite concentration in one’s urine tells us absolutely nothing about the amount of cocaine in one’s blood. There is no urine to blood ratio with regard to cocaine metabolites. Any toxicologists who says there is any such relationship is mistaken. Period.

In fact, famed toxicologist and pathologist Steven Karch has written that any attempt to infer impairment based upon urine concentrations of cocaine is “pure folly”. Without a blood test, it is impossible to for an expert to state with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the defendant was impaired by cocaine based upon a urine test.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs in New York, you need experienced attorneys who are not just experienced with criminal defense but who are also well versed in the science behind your charges. Attorneys who can cross examine the People’s expert with knowledge of the science involved that not many attorneys have. We just don’t ask the standard scientific questions that so many attorneys ask without really knowing what they are talking about. We know these tests, we know the science behind them and we put the prosecution to the test. For more information call toll free 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at

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