Driving While Ability Impaired By Alcohol
Most people are familiar with the .08 percent BAC limit that is used as a threshold for prosecuting DWI in New York City. What many don’t realize, however, is that a person may be charged with an alcohol-related offense with a blood alcohol level below .08 percent. Driving while ability impaired, or DWAI, can be charged if a person is found to have a BAC of between .05 percent and .07 percent.
As may be expected of a less severe charge, the consequences of DWAI are less serious than those seen in a first DWI offense. Being convicted of driving while ability impaired, however, does carry punishments that can significantly affect you: including fines, jail time and a license suspension.
Similar to how driving while intoxicated charges are prosecuted, penalties for DWAI offenses escalate with the number of offenses.
Punishments for DWAI can include:
- For a first offense, a DWAI is considered a traffic infraction. Fines range from $300 to $500 along with state fees and surcharges. You may also face a sentence of 15 days, although first-time offenders typically do not face jail time. If you are over the age of 21, your license may be suspended for 90 days. Those under 21 may face a license revocation of up to a year.
- A second DWAI offense occurring within five years is also considered a traffic infraction. Fines for a repeat offense are higher, ranging from $500 to $750 plus surcharges and fees. A jail sentence of 30 days may also be imposed by the court. A license revocation of 60 days may be given to those over 21 and people under the legal drinking age may lose their license for a year or until turning 21.
- A third DWAI offense within 10 years may be charged as a misdemeanor. Fines escalate with a third offense and range from $750 to $1,500, in addition to fees and surcharges. A jail term of six months may be imposed. Your driver’s license may also be suspended for six months if you are of legal drinking age. Those under 21 risk losing their license for a year or until they turn 21.
While clearly not as severe as the penalties for driving under the influence, the potential penalties resulting from being found guilty of DWAI are significant enough to merit careful attention and the help of a skilled DUI attorney.
Get The Legal Help You Need With A New York City Lawyer
Just as an attorney can be an invaluable resource for contesting a driving while intoxicated charge, a legal representative can also be an important source of information for DWAI. Technically, an infraction is not a crime, therefore you will not be eligible for a court appointed attorney for a DWAI ticket. Investing in one, however, can save you money in the long run– a lawyer will understand the distinctions between DWI and DWAI and the correlating implications for your case.
In addition to being trained in the DWI laws of New York, your attorney will also be familiar with DWAI defense strategies that may be effective toward helping you see the charges against you dropped or the penalties lessened.