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New York DWI Terms You Need to Know

Drinking or abusing drugs and driving is quite dangerous anywhere in the world, but in the United States, and specifically New York, driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is punished severely. The problem is there are so many different terms to know. Let's focus on the New York DWI terms you need to know, what penalties you can expect,  and how you can defend against DWI charges. DWI This is the broadest term in drinking and driving or abusing drugs and driving in New York law.  However, it bears mentioning because of the confusion with DUI and OWI. DUI is driving under the influence, DWI is driving while intoxicated, and OWI operating while intoxicated. These are the same technical terms for similar laws punishing those who drink or abuse drugs and drive. While state laws differ in terms of punishment, just understand DWI is like a DUI is but is how New York courts term abusing drugs or alcohol and driving. Aggravated DWI We've gone over “aggravated DUI” on the DUI Law blog many times, and aggravated DWI is pretty much the New York state version. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is much higher than a standard DWI, in this case .18 or higher. You will be punished for having a BAC over .08, but if you go even higher, you may face felony charge and much stiffer penalties. DWAI/Alcohol This means, according to New York state law, “driving while ability impaired (by alcohol)”, and you have a lesser BAC level, usually from .05 to .07. You may show other signs of obvious impairment. Technically, an officer can arrest you if it's obvious by your driving that you are intoxicated. DWAI/Drug This term is used when the problem is drug abuse, not alcohol. Even legal drugs can lead to a DWI charge if they impair your driving. If you are obviously using other drugs, you can be arrested, and if in possession of illegal drugs, face further charges. DWAI/Combination Driving While Ability Impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol. For example, you might mix a legal prescription drug with some alcohol; this is not only dangerous to you, but to other drivers. Refusing Breathalyzer or Other Tests In New York, you are penalized for refusing chemical tests, including breath tests and blood tests. Blood tests are the most accurate in terms of drug and alcohol abuse. If you refuse the breathalyzer, your New York license will be suspended for at least one year, you will face fines, and potentially stiffer charges if you've received a DWI before. Zero Tolerance If you are under 21 years of age, all states can charge you for just having drank any alcohol, even if not on your possession. In New York, if you drive with a alcohol level of .02 to .07, you are charged. The levels are different for some states, but just about any level of drinking can lead to DWI charges. Defending New York DWI You first need an experienced DWI lawyer, preferably one close to you. It's very important to hire your own lawyer instead of using a court appointed lawyer or worse defending yourself. It does cost money, but any defense is based on a knowledge of the laws in terms of court room process and defending charges. Just because you're charged with a DWI does not mean you will always face penalties; yes, most lead to penalties, but a good defense is invaluable in lessening charges if not having them dropped.