What Is a DWAI in New York?

It is important to understand the distinction between a DWI and DWAI in New York. To learn more, give our legal team a call today and speak with our skilled Rockland County criminal defense attorney.

What is the difference between a DWI and a DWAI in New York?

“Drunk driving” is a term that people typically use to refer to alcohol-related traffic offenses. However, multiple “drunk driving” charges can be brought against an impaired driver, even when the driver is not legally intoxicated. Drivers under the influence of drugs can also encounter multiple charges similar to a DWI or DUI. New York, like other states, classifies the different alcohol and drug-related driving charges, and each charge can result in different penalties. With some charges, a conviction can lead to steep fines, probation supervision, and even jail time.

In New York and most other states, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level limit is 0.08%. This implies that someone with a BAC of 0.08% or more is lawfully regarded as drunk, or intoxicated. The charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) means that the operator of a motor vehicle has a BAC level of 0.08% or higher and that the driver is beyond the legal limit. DWI is an alcohol-related charge that most people are acquainted with. Every new driver understands about the dangers and possible criminal punishments for intoxicated driving. However, DWI is not the only alcohol-related charge New York drivers face.

There is a distinction between driving while intoxicated and driving while impaired. In New York, driving while impaired is referred to as a DWAI, or Driving While Ability Impaired. Just like with a DWI, a DWAI charge can be obtained against a driver whose BAC level has reached a certain level. However, the BAC level for a DWAI is lower than the DWI charge. Any driver with a BAC of 0.05% to 0.07% is deemed legally impaired and can be charged with a DWAI. A driver charged with a DWAI will face the following punishments:

  • A fine of up to $500 plus a mandatory New York State surcharge of $260;
  • A mandatory 90-day license suspension;
  • Possible jail time of up to 15 days.

Another DWAI charge concerns driving while under the influence of drugs. In New York State this charge is called DWAI-Drugs. This charge is specifically for impairment by drug use. Any driver can be charged with a DWAI-Drugs if they drive under the influence of a controlled substance, regardless of whether the drug is legal, illegal, or prescribed. If convicted of this misdemeanor offense, a driver will have a permanent criminal record and will face several penalties including:

  • A fine of up to $1000 and a mandatory New York State surcharge of $400;
  • License revocation of at least six (6) months;
  • Jail time of up to one (1) year;
  • Three (3) years of Probation; and
  • Driver’s license revocations for six (6) months or more.

There is a third DWAI charge that connects to the impairment by both drugs and alcohol in combination. A DWAI-A/D charge can be brought against any driver found to be under the combined influence of both drugs and alcohol. This misdemeanor charge brings with it a permanent criminal record, and penalties are comparable to those for a DWAI-Drugs conviction.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, DWAI, or any related charge, it is in your best interest to reach out to our skilled legal team today. Our criminal defense attorneys are on your side.

Contact our experienced Rockland County firm

Those facing criminal charges in New York need a strong criminal defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. Call today or contact The Law Office of Carl Spector online to schedule a free confidential consultation.