The Difference Between DUI and DWI in New York

Technically, DUI means driving under the influence of some type drug. That can mean alcohol, prescriptions, or illegal drugs. The term DUI is not commonly used in the legal system in New York State. DWI means simply driving while intoxicated, and in many states, refers to the use of alcohol. The word “intoxicated,” in New York, refers to a motorist whose alcohol has rendered physically and mentally incapable of driving a vehicle in a reasonable and prudent manner. The use of DUI and DWI can be interchangeable, but DWI usually refers more to the severity the drug has metabolized within the offending person’s body. The blood alcohol content (BAC) for the offending motorist to be labeled as DWI is .08%.

New York complicates the meaning of the term by introducing another term named Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). The word “impaired” means that a motorist’s physical and mental abilities necessary to operate a vehicle in a reasonable and prudent manner have been actually impaired, to any extent, by alcohol. This term is closely related to DWI because it deals with the amount of alcohol that has been absorbed in the offenders blood stream. For a DWAI offender to be convicted, they must must leave the perception their BAC is at least .05% and less than .08%. DWAI is prosecuted as a “common”law and carries a lesser charge than DWI, which is prosecuted as a “per se” law. In New York, a person accused of DWI immediately has their license suspended, but if they are accused of DWAI, they will be able to drive until they have been convicted.

Like most states today, first time convictions of any act involving driving and the use of drugs in New York carry severe consequences. Either a DWI or DWAI conviction can result in high fines, jail sentences, surcharges on top of fines called Driver Responsibility Assessment, license suspension, issuance of a conditional license, participation in the Drinking Driver Program (DDP), vehicle impounded, probation, and community service.

According to the Buffalo News, City & Region, dated August 14, 2009, twelve DWI arrests were made in Western New York on June 6, 2009. Arrests were made in Buffalo, Batavia, Alden, Darien, Cheektowaga, Amherst, and Newstead. The charges ranged from DWI to felony DWI. Whatever term you refer to drinking and driving or drunk driving, states are clamping down on these type traffic violations. When you face these kinds of charges, it is no time to handle your case all by yourself. You need an attorney who specializes in such cases. Contact us today to help you get in contact with an attorney who can help you understand the subtle differences in the legal jargon of New York law, and who specializes in representing YOUR best interests.

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