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What is the difference between New York’s DWI and DWAI charges?

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2021 | Drunk Driving

Drunk driving is illegal throughout the U.S. Each jurisdiction refers to alcohol-related crimes differently, though. New York uses the terminology driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) when referring to alcohol or drug-related crimes. 

You must understand what distinguishes each of these offenses. This knowledge may impact the defense strategies that you employ in your case.

What to know about New York DWAI charges

New York law allows police to arrest anyone with an alleged blood alcohol content (BAC) between .05 and .07 for DWAI-Alcohol. This charge essentially asserts that, while you weren’t above the “per se” limit for legal intoxication, you were still too intoxicated to be driving. 

The state imposes mandatory sentences for convicted first-time DWAI-Alcohol offenders, including a 90-day driver’s license suspension, a 15-day jail term and up to $500 in fines. Monetary penalties may increase up to $750, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles may revoke a motorist’s license for 6-months, and the court will impose a 30-day jail sentence should a judge or jury convict a defendant of their second DWAI within two years. 

A third or subsequent DWAI-Alcohol offense within a 10-year time frame may result in a defendant facing misdemeanor charges, up to $1,500 in fines, a 180-day jail sentence and a license suspension of six months or more. There are DWAI-Alcohol, DWAI-Drug and DWAI-Combination offenses in New York.

New York DWI charges and associated penalties

Motorists with BACs of .08 or higher will face DWI charges. This index reduces to .04 for commercial drivers. A motorist’s charges may be upgraded to Aggravated DWI ones if a motorist tests as having a .18 or higher BAC. 

A first-time DWI offender faces up to $1,000 in fines, 1-year imprisonment and a 6-month revocation of their driver’s license. A secondary DWI offense within a 10-year time frame is a class E felony in New York, a criminal offense punishable by up to $5,000 in fines, a 4-year prison sentence and a license revocation lasting one year or more. A third DWI in New York is a class D felony, punishable by a 7-year incarceration period, year-long license revocation and up to $10,000 in fines. 

Why you must take New York drunk driving charges seriously

 A DWAI or DWI conviction on your record can significantly impact your freedom and future life. This is why you should aggressively defend yourself against any charges that you face. 

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