Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) in New York

New York state law categorizes drunk driving into three offenses, depending upon the percentage of alcohol in your blood, or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Your BAC can be estimated in a breath sample or determined from a blood sample. The charges are as follows:

  • AGG-DWI (Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated) if your BAC is .18 percent or higher
  • DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) if your BAC is between .08 percent and .18 percent
  • DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) if your BAC is more than .05 percent and less than .08 percent

DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired)

If you plead guilty or if you are found guilty at trial, your penalties will depend on the number of prior offenses you had and your age. For a first offense, your fine will range from $300 to $500 with up to 15 days in jail. For a second offense, your fine will range from $500 to $750 with up to 30 days in jail. And for a third or subsequent offense within ten years, your fine will range from $750 to $1,500 with up to 180 days in jail. Jail sentences or community service in lieu of jail are at the discretion of the judge. In addition to the fine, you will be subject to mandatory conviction surcharges or crime victims’ assistance fees.

Your driver’s license will also be suspended or revoked. The length of the suspension or revocation depends on your age and your number of prior convictions. If you are under 21 years of age, your license will be revoked for a minimum of one year for a first offense or a minimum of one year or your reaching age 21, whichever is longer for a subsequent offense. If you are 21 years of age or older, your license will be suspended for 90 days for a first offense or revoked for a minimum of six months for a subsequent offense.

In addition, for a third or subsequent offense you will be required to install an ignition interlock system in any car that you own or drive.

DWAI-Drugs or DWAI-Combined

If your driving was impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, you will be charged with DWAI-Drugs or DWAI-Combined. However, while the penalties for alcohol related DWAI are not as severe as DWI, the penalties for DWAI-Drugs or DWAI-Combined are virtually identical to that of DWI with the exception that an ignition interlock system is not applicable for DWAI-Drugs.

There is one other key difference. Whereas a DWAI for alcohol is not a criminal offense, a DWAI-Drugs or DWAI-Combined second offense is a felony that will leave you with a criminal record for the rest of your life.

Contact an Experienced New York Lawyer

At Sayegh & Sayegh, our skilled DWAI lawyers in New York have had years of experience assisting drivers in Westchester, Rockland, Bronx, Dutchess, Putnam, Orange and Ulster. Contact us at (914) 968-5800 to schedule a consultation today.

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