New York Impaired Driving Overview

June 21, 2024


“Drunk driving” is a commonly used term that many think refers to any and all alcohol-related traffic offenses. In reality, there are multiple “drunk driving” charges that can be brought against an impaired driver, even when the driver is not legally intoxicated. Drivers under the influence of drugs can also face multiple charges similar to a DWI or DUI. New York, like many states, categorizes the different alcohol and drug-related driving charges, and each charge can result in different penalties. For some charges, a conviction can lead to steep fines, probation supervision, and even jail time.

In New York and every other state, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level limit is 0.08%. This means that someone with a BAC of 0.08% or more is legally considered drunk, or intoxicated. The charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) means that the operator of a motor vehicle has a BAC level of 0.08% or higher, and that the driver is beyond the legal limit. DWI is the alcohol-related charge that most people are familiar with. Every new driver learns about the dangers and possible criminal punishments for intoxicated driving. However, DWI is not the only alcohol-related charge New York drivers face.

There is a difference between driving while intoxicated and driving while impaired. In New York, driving while impaired is known as a DWAI, or Driving While Ability Impaired. Like a DWI, a DWAI charge can be brought against a driver whose BAC level has reached a certain level. However, the BAC level for a DWAI is lower than the DWI charge. Any driver with a BAC of 0.05% to 0.07% is considered legally impaired, and can be charged with a DWAI. A driver convicted of a DWAI will face the following punishments:

  • A fine of up to $500 plus a mandatory New York State surcharge of $260;
  • A mandatory 90-day license suspension;
  • Possible jail time of up to 15 days.

Another DWAI charge concerns driving while under the influence of drugs. In New York State this charge is called DWAI-Drugs. This charge is specifically for impairment by drug use. Any driver can be charged with a DWAI-Drugs if they drive under the influence of a controlled substance, regardless of whether the drug is legal, illegal, or prescribed. If convicted of this misdemeanor offense, a driver will have a permanent criminal record and will face several penalties including:

  • A fine of up to $1000 and a mandatory New York State surcharge of $400;
  • License revocation of at least six (6) months;
  • Jail time of up to one (1) year;
  • Three (3) years of Probation; and
  • Driver’s license revocations for six (6) months or more.

There is a third DWAI charge that relates to the impairment by both drugs and alcohol in combination. A DWAI-A/D charge can be brought against any driver found to be under the combined influence of both drugs and alcohol. This misdemeanor charge carries with it a permanent criminal record, and penalties are similar to those for a DWAI-Drugs conviction.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, DWAI, or any related charge, you need to call Nave DWI Defense Attorneys today. Our experienced attorneys have successfully represented countless New York drivers charged with DWI or impaired driving charges. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 432 N. Franklin Street, Suite 80, Syracuse, NY 13204; Telephone No.: 1-866-792-7800. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.

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