Shot glass with alcohol next to car keys

DWI vs. DWAI in New York

In all states throughout the country, it is against the law to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs—no matter how much is in the person’s system. However, there are different charges for intoxicated driving in New York, depending on the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and level of impairment.

DWI vs. DWAI - What Is the Difference?

There are two main types of drunk driving offenses in New York: driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI). While both charges are serious matters, generally speaking, DWI is the more severely punished of the two.

DWI: Driving While Intoxicated

If a driver has a BAC of at least .08 percent—or .04 percent if the driver is a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder—he/she could be charged with a DWI. A conviction for a first offense is punishable by a maximum one-year jail sentence, fines of up to $1,000, and driver’s license suspension for a minimum of six months.

However, if a driver’s BAC is at least .18 percent, he/she could be charged with an aggravated DWI. A conviction for a first-time aggravated DWI carries a maximum one-year jail term, fines of up to $2,500, and driver’s license suspension for a minimum one year. A DWI conviction will be displayed on your driving record for 15 years.

DWAI: Driving While Ability Impaired

On the other hand, if a driver’s BAC is between .05 and .07, he/she could be charged with a DWAI. A conviction for a first-time DWAI is punishable by a maximum 15-day jail sentence, fines no more than $500, and driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 90 days. DWAI convictions will be displayed on your driving record for 10 years.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Albany, contact O’Brien & Wood PLLC today at (518) 240-9992 and request a free case review.

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