Defending Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) Charges in New York State: Strategies and Considerations
Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) is a traffic infraction in New York State. It is a lesser offense than Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) but still carries significant penalties, including fines, jail time, and license suspension.
In New York State, a driver can be charged with DWAI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is between 0.05% and 0.07%. The BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%.
A driver can also be charged with DWAI if they are impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Impairment can be shown by a variety of factors, including:
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Redness of the eyes
- Lack of attention
- Poor judgment
A driver can be charged with DWAI even if they are not actually driving. For example, a driver can be charged with DWAI if they are sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition, even if the engine is off.
A driver can be charged with DWAI even if they have a BAC below the legal limit. This is because the DWAI statute does not focus on a specific BAC level. Instead, it focuses on whether the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The penalties for DWAI can be increased if the driver has any aggravating factors, such as a prior DWI or DUI conviction, or if they were driving with a child under the age of 16 in the car.
Penalties for DWAI Charge in New York State
The penalties for a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) charge in New York State (NYS) can vary depending on the circumstances. Here are the general penalties for a first-time offense:
- Fine of up to $500
- Jail sentence of up to 15 days
- License suspension of up to 90 days
- Mandatory alcohol education program
- Possible ignition interlock device (IID) installation
The penalties will be more severe if you have any prior DWI or DWAI convictions within the past 10 years. For example, a second offense within 10 years is a felony and can result in a fine of up to $5,000, a jail sentence of up to 4 years, and a license revocation of at least 18 months.
It is important to note that these are just the general penalties. The specific penalties you face will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. For example, if you were involved in an accident or had a high blood alcohol content (BAC), you could face more severe penalties.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about DWAI penalties in NYS:
- The penalties for a DWAI conviction can also include surcharges, which are additional fees that are added to your fine. The amount of the surcharges will depend on the severity of your offense.
- If you are convicted of a DWAI, your insurance rates will likely go up. The increase in your rates will depend on your insurance company and the severity of your offense.
- A DWAI conviction can also have a negative impact on your employment and your ability to obtain a professional license.
If you have been charged with a DWAI in NYS, it is important to take the charges seriously and to seek legal representation as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options and can fight to protect your interests.
Building a Robust Defense Strategy
Evaluating the Traffic Stop: The foundation of any DWAI defense begins with a thorough examination of the traffic stop. Was there probable cause to initiate the stop? Were the proper procedures followed by law enforcement? Any violations of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights can significantly impact the case’s validity.
Challenging Sobriety Tests: DWAI cases often involve field sobriety tests, which can be subjective and prone to human error. Our experienced attorneys meticulously scrutinize the administration of these tests to identify any inconsistencies or improper procedures that could undermine their reliability.
Questioning Chemical Tests: Chemical tests, such as breathalyzers, urine or blood tests, are crucial pieces of evidence in DWAI cases. However, these tests are not infallible. Our legal team will investigate whether the testing equipment was properly calibrated, maintained, and operated by certified personnel. If there are discrepancies, the validity of the test results can be called into question.
Medical Conditions and Prescription Medications: Some medical conditions and prescription medications can lead to impaired driving without the presence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Our defense strategy explores the possibility of a medical condition or medication affecting the defendant’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Constructing Alternative Explanations: We work closely with our clients to gather detailed accounts of the events leading up to their DWAI charge. By understanding the context and circumstances, we can build alternative explanations for their behavior that may not necessarily point to impairment.
Navigating Legal Options
Our legal team is well-versed in the nuanced laws of New York State, including its DWAI statutes and sentencing guidelines. Depending on the specifics of the case, we can pursue various legal avenues:
Negotiating Reductions: Through skillful negotiation, we aim to secure reductions in charges or penalties, such as obtaining a plea deal to a lesser offense or pursuing enrollment in a substance abuse education program.
Challenging Evidence in Court: If necessary, we are prepared to take the case to trial. Our experienced litigators will present a strong defense, cross-examine witnesses, and challenge evidence in court to achieve the best possible outcome.
Protecting Driving Privileges: DWAI convictions can result in the suspension or revocation of driving privileges. We will advocate for our clients to retain their driving rights whenever possible.
Facing a DWAI charge in New York State can be a daunting experience, but the DWI Team is dedicated to providing unwavering support and exceptional legal representation. Our extensive knowledge of the legal landscape, combined with our commitment to protecting clients’ rights, empowers us to construct robust defense strategies tailored to each unique case. From dissecting the traffic stop to challenging sobriety tests and negotiating favorable outcomes, we stand as the shield against DWAI charges, advocating for the best interests of our clients at every turn.