The basics of DWAI/DWI charges in New York

All states enforce DUI laws, though the charges and names of the offenses vary. Regardless of the charges, drivers could face stiff court fines and jail time as well as varying charges. Police commonly charge drivers in New York with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI).

DWI penalties

Most states set the BAC level at .08, meaning drivers found above the legal limit may face several consequences. First-time offenders commonly lose their license for six months, face up to a year in jail and are must pay fines along with a surcharge. Law enforcement may issue felony charges to a defendant depending on the situation.

A second offense within five years of the first DWI could result in a minimum of five days to a maximum of four years in jail or 30 days of community service. A third offense within 10 years could result in 10 days to seven years of jail time or 60 days of community service. Second and third offenses also include a revoked license for a minimum of 18 months.

DWAI penalties

Law enforcement tends to treat DWAIs less seriously, depending on the circumstances, but New York sets the BAC level lower for it at .05. The authorities often group this charge with DWAI-alcohol or DWAI-drug categories.

A first-time DWAI-alcohol charge usually carries a maximum of 15 days in jail, a 90-day license suspension and fines up to $500. A first-time DWA-drug charge within five years of the last charge carries a maximum of 30 days to one year in jail and a six-month license suspension. The penalties increase for felonies under both charges.

Other considerations

Additional penalties of DWI education, victim impact programs, and alcohol screening and treatment could apply. A driver doesn’t have to be driving to receive a DWI/DWAI charge as he or she could be starting his or her vehicle while impaired.

Using legal drugs while driving can also result in DWI charges. The refusal to take a Breathalyzer test often carries a $500 fine and one-year license suspension.

DUI charges have serious consequences, but mistakes can happen during a DWI/DWAI arrest, and police officers often treat drivers unjustly. In these cases, a person has the right to an attorney.