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New York drunk driving - DWAI vs. DWI

Drivers arrested in New York who have been impaired by alcohol may be charged with a DWI driving while impaired or a DWAI driving while ability impaired. The main difference is a DWI is a criminal misdemeanor offense and a DWAI is a traffic violation and is covered by Section 1192(1) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="New York State Capitol viewed from the south, located on the north end of the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"]English: New York State Capitol viewed from th...[/caption]

Can I get a DWAI instead of a DWI?

  While the factors of the drunk driving arrest will determine what charges the state will bring against the driver, generally a driver may be charged with a DWAI if they have a blood alcohol concentration between 0.05% up to 0.07%. Presumably there would not be any additional aggravating factors. The state does use plea bargaining in DWI cases and may allow some drivers to plead guilty to the lesser offense of DWAI. If the driver has been charged with a DWAI, however, there is not a lesser charge to plead down to and the defendant generally has no reason not to fight the DWAI charges. Drivers who are convicted of a DWAI may face the following penalties:
  • Fines of from $300 to $500
  • A maximum jail sentence of 15 days
  • A maximum of a 90 day driver’s license suspension
Although these are the common DWAI penalties, there also may be some long-term consequences of a DWAI arrest which can include higher insurance rates or difficulty getting certain types of jobs in the future.

Will I face jail time for my DWAI charge?

  Whether or not the court will decide to send you to jail for a DWAI will depend on a variety of factors including your previous driving record (including drunk driving charges which occurred outside the state of New York), where you were arrested, the judge who does the sentencing, and whether the court determines you are remorseful and taking responsibility for your actions.

When does the state offer a plea bargain for DWI?

  If you hire a New York DWI lawyer they can generally help their claimants get a reduction of the DWI charges to DWAI if it is the first DWI charge, if the driver’s BAC was lower than 0.18% (which is considered an aggravated DWI), if the driver caused an accident, or they have other criminal convictions on their record. Keep in mind, some counties may not allow a reduction to a DWAI if your blood alcohol content reaches certain levels.

What is a DWI in New York?

  Throughout many states drunk driving is referred to as driving under the influence or DUI. In the state of New York the terms DUI and DWI or used interchangeably and can include charges against a driver who is operating a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. The state of New York will also have additional penalties and charges for drivers who are arrested with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.18% and this is called AGG-DWI, which stands for aggravated DWI.
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