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The Difference Between DWI & DWAI in New York


If you reside in the state of New York, it is possible for you to be charged with a number of different alcohol-related offenses. Among these include driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while ability impaired (DWAI) and zero tolerance violations. Each crime ranges in severity, meaning that you could expect to face varying legal penalties. For example, driving while intoxicated is prosecuted as a criminal misdemeanor, while driving while ability impaired is considered to be a traffic infraction—with the differentiating factor being the driver's level of impairment.

In most cases, a driver will be charged with DWAI if their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is measured between .05% and .07%. Since the legal limit in New York is .08%, they would not be charged with a criminal offense. Rather, it must only be proven that they were too intoxicated to safely operate a motor vehicle in order to substantiate a DWAI infraction. Although the penalties for driving while ability impaired are not as severe as those that are imposed for DWI, a first offense could still land the defendant in jail for a period of 15 days and cost them up to $500 in fines.

On the other hand, the prosecution must be able to prove that the defendant's BAC had met or exceeded the legal limit of .08% in order to charge them with DWI per se—unless they had refused to provide a breath or blood sample at the time of their arrest, in which case they would be charged with common law DWI. If convicted of a first-time DWI offense, one could expect to face $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail and the suspension of their driver's license for a period of six months. After that, any subsequent drunk driving arrests would result in felony DWI charges.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that you combat a DWI or DWAI charge while there is still time. You are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, so you should not hesitate to exercise your right to a fair trial. With the help of a New York City criminal lawyer from Law Offices of Daniel A. Hochheiser, you can begin building an effective defense against your DWI charges as soon as you have been arrested. Even if you had taken, and failed, a field sobriety test or chemical test at the time of your arrest, there are ways that our firm can challenge the validity of this evidence.

If you are interested in learning more, we encourage you to contact our office today at (800) 813-9069. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss your DWI or DWAI case.

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