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What is the difference between a DWI and a DWAI charge?

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2021 | DUI/DWI

If law enforcement stops you on suspicion of drunk driving, you may have concerns about the charges you may face and the potential consequences on your present and future. With the differing alcohol-related charges, however, you may not know what to expect. 

Although often used interchangeably with each other or the phrase drunk driving, driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired charges differ significantly from each other. 

Driving while intoxicated

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, you may face a DWI charge if stopped by law enforcement and they find you to have a blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher. The authorities may also charge you with DWI if they observe or discover other evidence of intoxication. For example, this may include smelling alcohol on your breath or seeing open alcohol bottles or cans in your vehicle. 

If convicted or you plead guilty to a DWI charge, you may face penalties including fines, imprisonment and a revocation of your driving privileges. For a first-time offense, the court may fine you between $500 and $1,000, sentence you to jail for up to one year, revoke your driver’s license for a minimum of six months or order a combination of these. 

Driving while ability impaired

You may face DWAI charges if stopped by law enforcement with a BAC level of more than 0.05 but not over 0.07. Law enforcement officers may also charge you with DWAI if you display signs of impairment, whether resulting from alcohol consumption, drug use or both. If you plead guilty or get convicted of DWAI, you may face a fine of between $300 and $500, imprisonment for a maximum of 15 days, a 90-day driver’s license suspension or a combination of these. 

Both DWI and DWAI charges may have profound effects on your personal and professional lives, even after paying your fines and serving your time. However, understanding your rights and options with regards to these charges may help you to build a stronger defense.