In New York, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Per Se, Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) charges encompass the basic alcohol-related offenses under the Vehicle & Traffic Law. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Per Se and Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) involve cases where there is a chemical test for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). They carry the same consequences as straight or “common law” DWI, which is primarily based upon observations of your physical condition. If you’re facing alcohol-related charges, you should seek legal advice from a seasoned DWI attorney because a conviction can have lasting repercussions in numerous areas of your life, particularly if you are a professional or drive for a living. A seasoned DWI defense attorney can evaluate the case. In the meantime, here is a general overview, which is not intended to be exhaustive. 

What Is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)?

Driving While Intoxicated, or DWI, is operating a vehicle either with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, or while in an intoxicated condition, meaning you are incapable of possessing the physical and mental capabilities required to operate a motor vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver. Excluding any aggravating factors, like an exceptionally high blood-alcohol content or prior convictions, potential mandatory penalties for a first-time or misdemeanor DWI include a fine of between $500 and $1,000, plus a mandatory surcharge of $395-$400, a license revocation of at least six months, and mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock device for one year. DWI is a crime. Conviction for DWI will give you a criminal record. It is also a predicate-type offense, meaning that you are charged again within a certain time period, the penalties increase based upon your prior conviction(s).

Just because you’re charged with DWI, does not mean you will be convicted. With the right defense, it may be possible to challenge the evidence against you and have the charges reduced or dismissed, depending on the facts of your case. DWI defense is a highly technical area of the law. Speak to an attorney well versed in this area of practice.

What Is Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)? How does it differ from Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)?

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DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired. A lesser offense than DWI, it generally applies when a motorist registers a BAC of between 0.05 and 0.07% or his/her ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired to the slightest extent by prior consumption of alcohol. Penalties for conviction include a fine of between $300 and $500, plus a mandatory surcharge, and a license suspension of 90 days.

Knowledgeable DWI defense attorneys often attempt to negotiate for a lesser charge like DWAI because it carries reduced penalties and no Ignition Interlock. It is also a traffic infraction, and not a crime. It does not result in a criminal record

If you need any legal advice regarding drunk driving-related charges, give Thomas A. Corletta, Attorney & Counselor at Law a call, you will be glad that you did. Mr. Corletta, practicing in and out of Rochester, NY, since 1981, just shy of 40 years, this highly skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced lawyer is well-versed in criminal defense. He also assists individuals with bankruptcy petitions, Wills, name changes, eviction proceedings, traffic tickets, real estate closings, and family law disputes, ranging from divorce to custody, and more. To seek legal advice about a DWI charge, call (585) 546-5072. Visit Mr. Corletta’s website to learn more about his practice areas, and see what he can do to help you with your situation.