If arrested for a drug or alcohol related charge, you might wonder what the specifics of your charge entail. Understanding the differences between DWIs and DWAIs can help in your case.
DWI vs. DWAI
DWI stands for driving while intoxicated, while DWAI stands for driving while ability impaired. These charges are not the same! They refer to different things in the state of New York. In New York, you get charged with a DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher. If your BAC is at .08 or higher, this means that you are legally drunk in the states of New York and Connecticut. DWI constitutes a crime because it means that you operated a vehicle while over the legal limit of alcohol consumption.
In contrast, if caught drinking and driving, but your BAC goes between .05 and .07, you will get charged with DWAI. As leading New York DWI Attorney Harold Dee explains, “DWAI is not a crime but a traffic infraction so [it] is a common plea down when the [BAC] is less than a .16 in Westchester, [or less than] .13 in Manhattan, Rockland, and Orange Counties.”
The consequences for a DWI and a DWAI are also different. Both charges can carry a fine, a jail sentence, and a license suspension. However, the DWI consequences are greater than the DWAI ones. For example, a first offense fine for a DWAI is $300-$500, while a first offense fine for a DWI is $500-$1,000.
In the state of Connecticut, action is not taken against drivers with a BAC of less than .08. This courtesy is extended to Connecticut drivers in the state of New York. If you are pulled over in New York, and your BAC is between .05 and .07, the police will take no action against you, since you are a licensed driver in a sister state that does not charge for DWAIs. Attorney Dee also points out that, “Similarly, [New York State] traffic offenses are not listed on a CT driver’s abstract.”
If you are a Connecticut driver, you do not have to worry about getting a DWAI in Connecticut or New York. If a police officer does issue a DWAI to you while you are driving in New York, Ruane Attorneys can help you fight the charge. In the state of New York, it is also possible to lower a DWI charge to a DWAI, depending on the circumstances of your case. You can call us for a free consultation with Ruane Attorneys if you are a licensed Connecticut driver and a resident of Connecticut. Ruane Attorneys would also like to thank DWI attorney Harold Dee for providing information on this page. If you have questions concerning DWAIs or New York penalties, you can contact him here.