DUI/DWI - Drunk Driving

What is the difference between DWI and DWAI?

  • Intoxicated is defined as the voluntary consumption of alcohol causing impairment which renders a personincapable to a substantial extent of employing the physical and mental abilities which are needed to possessed in order to operate a vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver.
  • Impairment is defined as impairment to any extent of the physical and mental abilities needed to be possessed in order to operate a vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver.
  • DWI: Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated is a misdemeanor offense which means that if a person is convicted of this offense he/she would have a criminal record. First time offenders face a maximum one-year jail term and/or a fine of $500-$1000 and a mandatory license revocation of six months. In New York State, any conviction for a DWI related misdemeanor results in the installation of a Ignitiona Interlock Device.  There is no enhancement of sanctions if the defendant has a prior conviction of DWAI. A prior conviction for DWI within the last 10 years will result in a felony charge and enhanced sanctions.
  • DWAI: Operating a Motor Vehicle While Ability Impaired is a traffic infraction and not a crime.  If convicted of this offense you will not have a criminal record. A first time offender shall be punishable by a maximum jail term of 15 days and/or a fine of $300-$500 and a license suspension of 90 days. A second time offender within 5 years shall be punishable by a maximum jail term of 30 days, and/or a fine of $500-$750 and a license suspension of 6 months. A third time offender shall be punishable by a maximum jail term of 90 days, and/or a fine of $750-$1500 and a license suspension of 6 months.

What are the different crimes involving alcohol and drug-related driving violations in New York State?

  • Aggravated DWI: Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated: .18 BAC or higher.
    DWI
     Driving While Intoxicated: 
    .08 BAC* or higher or other evidence of intoxication
  • DWAI: Driving While Ability Impaired (by alcohol): .05 BAC* to .07 BAC*, or other evidence of impairment.
  • DWAI/Drugs: Driving While Ability Impaired (by a drug that is not alcohol)
     
    Chemical Test Refusal:  A driver who refuses to take a chemical test (normally a test of breath, blood or urine) can receive a driver license revocation of at least one year (18 months for a commercial driver) and must pay a $500 civil penalty ($550 for a driver of commercial vehicles) to apply for a new driver license. A driver who refuses a chemical test during the five years after a DWI-related charge or previous refusal will have their driver license revoked for at least 18 months (permanent for a commercial driver) and must pay a $750 civil penalty to apply for a new driver license. If the driver is under age 21, and refuses a chemical test during the five years after a DWI-related charge or previous refusal, they will have their driver license revoked for at least one year or until age 21, whichever is longer and must pay a $750 civil penalty to apply for a new driver license.
     
    Zero Tolerance Law: A driver who is less than 21 years of age and who drives with a .02 BAC to .07 BAC violates the Zero Tolerance 
    Law.

What Will Happen If I Refuse to Take The Chemical Test?

  • License Suspension: If you refuse a chemical test for BAC (Blood Alcohol Content), your license will be suspended at arraignment in court and may be subsequently revoked for at least one year at a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing.  The result of the Department of Motor Vehicles hearing may have an affect on the license suspension, separate and apart from the suspension imposed the Criminal Court after conviction.  You will also be subject to a civil penalty of $750, to be paid over 3 years ($250 per year). The penalties and fines for refusing to submit to a chemical test are separate from, and in addition to the penalties and fines for alcohol or drug-related convictions.
  • Affect of Refusal at trial: The District Attorney's Office can use a person's refusal to submit to the chemcial test, Intoxilyzer 5000, at trial as evidence as consciousness of guilt.   

Conditional License Eligibility

  • Pre-Conviction Condional License: If you are arrested for a DWI or DWAI and it is your first arrest you are eligible for a Pre-Conviction Conditional License which will grant you conditional priveleges to operate a motor vehicle in New York until a final suspension order is issued.
  • Post Conviction Conditional License: If you receive your first conviction for DWI or DWAI and you participate in the Drinking Driver Program (DDP), you can receive a conditional license. The DMV determines if you are eligible for the DDP.