What is the Difference Between DWI and DWAI?

New York DWI Versus DWAI

While most people have heard of driving under the influence DUI, that is not actually what it is called in the State of New York. In New York, what is commonly referred to as a DUI is actually called a DWI or driving while intoxicated. In addition to a DUI, a person in New York may also face a DWAI charge. DWAI stands for “driving while ability impaired.” So, now the question presents itself: what is the difference between DWI and DWAI?

What is the Difference Between DWI and DWAI?

You can be charged with DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at a level of .08 or higher or there is other evidence of you showing signs of intoxication at this level. An aggravated DWI is when you have been operating a vehicle with a .18 BAC or higher. A DWI conviction is likely to result in a fine, jail time, and the suspension of your driver’s license. Additionally, those found guilty of driving while intoxicated will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. An ignition interlock device is essentially a Breathalyzer that connects to the engine of the vehicle. The driver is required to blow into the Breathalyzer in order to start the engine. If the Breathalyzer detects any alcohol, the engine will not start. In the State of New York, every driver found guilty of DWI must install the ignition interlock device in their his or her vehicle for a minimum time period of one year.

DWAI is actually a category which has more specific infractions associated with it. You see, DWAI is specific to which substance is impairing the driver. New York provides for three different types of DWAI offenses. These are:

  • Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol: This offense applies if a driver has greater than a .05 BAC, but less than a .07 BAC or shows other signs of impairment by alcohol. If convicted of this offense, a person faces a mandatory fine ranging between $300 and $500, a maximum jail term of 15 days, and mandatory driver’s license suspension for 90 days.
  • Driving While Impaired by a Single Drug Other than Alcohol: If a driver is operating a vehicle while impaired by a drug other than alcohol, whether it is a legally obtained prescription drug, or an illegal drug, he or she may be charged with this offense. If convicted, the driver faces a mandatory fine ranging from $500 to $1,000, a maximum jail term of 1 year, and a mandatory driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 6 months
  • Driving While Ability Impaired by a Combined Influence of Drugs or Alcohol: This offense is applicable if a driver is found to be operating a vehicle while impaired by more than one drug or a combination of drugs and alcohol. A person convicted of this faces a mandatory fine ranging between $500 and $1,000, a maximum jail term of 1 year, and suspension of his or her driver’s license for a minimum of 6 months.

A DWI or DWAI will remain on your driving record for 10 years. Additionally, your car insurance carrier may cancel your policy. If they do not cancel your policy, they may still increase your premium rates due to the seriousness of the offense you were convicted of.

Representing You in the Face of a DWI or DWAI Charge.

Whether it is a DWI or DWAI charge, the seriousness of the situation is very real. Both offenses carry serious penalties and will have a lasting impact on your life should you be convicted. Get the experienced DWI and DWAI attorneys at CDH law on your side and be confident knowing you are not going through this alone. Contact us today.