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Breakdown of DWI/DWAI Charges and Penalties in NY


DWI/DWAI Charges and Penalties

In recent years, the State of New York has declared war on drunk and/or impaired driving. If convicted of an alcohol or drug-related driving charge in New York, you face stiff punishment – significant fines, fees, and even jail time. While some states differentiate between “driving under the influence” and “driving while intoxicated,” New York does not. In the Empire State, there are two basic alcohol-related driving charges: Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”) and the somewhat less serious – but still very serious – Driving While Ability Impaired by alcohol (“DWAI”).

Driving While Intoxicated

DWI charges depend, at least in part, on the type of vehicle that you were driving at the time of the alleged offense, and the level of your blood alcohol content (“BAC”). DWI charges are broken down as follows:

  • DWI: BAC .08 or higher, or other evidence of intoxication, for drivers of private vehicles.
  • DWI: BAC .04 or higher, or other evidence of intoxication, for drivers of commercial vehicles.
  • Aggravated DWI: .18 BAC or higher.

Driving While Ability Impaired

It is important to remember that, to be charged with DWAI in New York, your BAC need not be at or above the basic legal limit (.08). DWAI charges are broken down as follows:

  • DWAI / Alcohol: Evidence of impairment by alcohol while driving a motor vehicle.
  • DWAI / Drug: Impaired by a single drug other than alcohol.
  • DWAI / Combination: Driving while impaired by combined influence of drugs or alcohol.

Felony DWI

Where the driver has prior DWI / DWAI Drug charges or conviction, a Vehicular Assault in the 1st or 2nd degree, or Vehicular Manslaughter in the 1st or 2nd degree, within the past 10 years, he or she can be charged with a Felony DWI.

Fines, Fees and Other Costs

DWI fines can range into the thousands of dollars, and DWI convictions can result in sentences of probation, jail or even prison (in felony cases), and will include revocation of driver license for at least 6-18 months, depending upon a number of factors, including:

  • The driver’s BAC level
  • The driver’s age
  • Whether the driver was driving a personal vehicle or a commercial vehicle
  • Whether the driver has had previous DWI or DWAI arrest(s) or conviction(s)

New York law also requires any driver convicted of DWI to install an ignition interlock system on any automobile that he or she may operate, and it generally must remain installed for the period of time that his or her license is revoked, plus any probationary period. Those convicted of DWI or DWAI also will see a significant rise in their auto insurance premiums.

Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative Consequences

If your license is revoked as the result of a conviction for an alcohol-related driving offense or incident, new rules enacted in New York State will severely impact such drivers having a prior history of multiple alcohol related convictions or incidents.  Under these rules, certain drivers whose licenses get revoked for an alcohol-related driving offense can be denied re-licensure for five or more years following the expiration of the 12-18 month revocation imposed as a result of the conviction itself.  Some drivers may be subject to permanent denials of any application to be relicensed as New York State drivers, and those who are eventually relicensed are subject to numerous restrictions for years.  It is essential in any alcohol-related case that you obtain the advice and counsel of a knowledgeable, experienced, DWI attorney to try to avoid these negative consequences that can last long after the court case is over.

Experienced Legal Counsel is Crucial to Your DWI or DWAI Defense

Many drivers charged with DWI or DWAI know that the “built-in” charges – fines, court fees, and insurance-related expenses – are significant. They may think that they cannot afford experienced legal counsel. In reality, the fees charged by Hacker Murphy are in line with, and sometimes even less than, the attorneys who advertise on television and radio. We have the skills and tenacity required to handle your defense toward the best possible outcome.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district. We have been representing clients for years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 730-7270 or complete our online form. The Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.