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DWAI – Driving While Ability Impaired

Similar to the DWI or driving while intoxicated charge, within the state of New York, the DWAI charge isn’t something to take lightly, and can not only end in legal issues, but can seriously harm or hurt pedestrians, other drivers, your passengers, and yourself – leading to lasting injuries or even death. Despite how dangerous such actions might be, those charged are still deserving of a competent and diligent legal defense – for help with your DWAI charges, be sure to contact the best criminal defense attorney NYC has to offer, in Ms. Yanina Tabachnikova today.

What is a DWAI Charge and What Does it Entail?
For purposes of New York’s DWAI law, “ability impaired” means impairment, to “any extent,” of the person’s physical and mental abilities, which he or she is expected to possess to operate a vehicle as a “reasonable and prudent” driver. There are three types of DWAI offenses. It’s unlawful for a person to drive a vehicle while their ability is impaired by the:

  • Consumption of alcohol (“Alcohol-DWAI”).
  • Use of a drug (“Drug-DWAI”).
  • Use of a combination of alcohol and drugs (“Combination-DWAI”).

DWI – Driving While Intoxicated
If a defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .05% or less, it’s presumed that his or her ability to operate a vehicle wasn’t impaired by the consumption of alcohol. However, a defendant with a BAC of .07% or more but less than .08% is presumed to be DWAI. If the defendant’s BAC is in the middle—more than .05% but less than .07%—there’s no presumption as to whether the defendant was impaired. Generally, a defendant who operates a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or more commits DWI per se. However, commercial drivers can be convicted of DWI for driving with a BAC of .04% or more. And for drivers under the age of 21 years, a BAC of .02% or more can result in DWI charges.

According to Ms. Tabachnikova, the legal system looks down heavily on such intoxicated drivers, and often attempt to punish them to the full extent of the law. Penalties include a lot, including:

License Revocation or Suspension:Under New York’s implied consent law, a driver is required to take a chemical test if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe he or she has committed a DWAI or DWI. At the arraignment (the first court date), the court will suspend the license of any driver who had a BAC of .08% or more while the criminal prosecution is pending. The court will suspend the license of a driver who refused a chemical test pending the outcome of a Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) hearing. If the refusal is confirmed at the hearing, the DMV will revoke the motorist’s license for one year. Eligible offenders can obtain a “conditional license” or “hardship privilege,” which allow driving in limited situations during the suspension or revocation period.

Civil Penalty: This is exercised when an individual refuses an on-scene, chemical sobriety test – generally about $500 or more. Will also likely lead to a short (relatively) suspension period.

A first conviction for Alcohol-DWAI is a traffic infraction and the penalties imposed are generally less severe than those for other impaired driving convictions. In contrast, first convictions for DWI per se, DWI, Drug-DWAI, and Combination-DWAI are misdemeanor crimes.

Penalties for First Alcohol-DWAI Convictions
Jail and fines: An Alcohol-DWAI conviction carries a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail and/or a fine of $300 to $500.

License suspension:The court will impose a 90-day driver’s license suspension for a first Alcohol-DWAI conviction. A defendant who participates in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can usually apply for a conditional license during the term of the suspension.

Penalties for First DWI, Drug-DWAI, and Combination-DWAI Convictions
Jail and fines: The maximum jail sentence for first a DWI, Drug-DWAI, and Combination-DWAI is one year. In addition to or instead of a jail sentence, the court can impose a fine of $500 to $1,000. (Motorists with a BAC of .18% or more can face the more serious charge of aggravated DWI.)

License revocation: The defendant’s license will be revoked for six months as the result of a first DWI, Drug-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI conviction. Defendants who participate in a rehabilitation program are generally eligible for a conditional license.

Ignition interlock device: A defendant who’s convicted of DWI or DWI per se must complete a term of probation or conditional discharge. As a condition of probation, the defendant must install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) in any vehicle that he or she owns or operates. Depending on the circumstances, the defendant will have to use the IID for a minimum of six months or one year.

Don’t Wait! Contact an Attorney Now!
The fact is that driving isn’t a right, but a privilege, however, things can happen and we all make mistakes. For those who it might be their first offense, use this as a learning experience. but regardless without the help of a strong defense and an experienced DWAI attorney you could be looking at losing your license, your vehicle and end up paying heavy fines or even jail time. Don’t let that happen to you, contact the Law Offices of Ms. Yanina Tabachnikova today.

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