Clients often ask us what is the difference between a DWAI conviction and a DWI conviction. Surprisingly, they often ask us this after they have pled guilty to an alcohol related charge and they realize that they were not made aware of the administrative consequences that are associated with entering the guilty plea.
What follows is a basic list of charges in New York State.
BAC = blood alcohol concentration
- DWI: Driving While Intoxicated; .08 BAC or higher or other evidence of intoxication. For drivers of commercial motor vehicles, .04 BAC or other evidence of intoxication.
- Aggravated DWI: Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated: .18 BAC or higher.
- DWAI/Alcohol: Driving While Ability Impaired (by alcohol); more than .05 BAC to .07 BAC, or other evidence of impairment. For drivers of commercial motor vehicles who are under age 21, .02 BAC or other evidence of impairment.
- DWAI/Drug: Driving While Ability Impaired by a single Drug other than alcohol.
- DWAI/Combination: Driving While Ability Impaired by a Combined Influence of Drugs or Alcohol.
- Chemical Test Refusal: A driver who refuses to take a chemical test (normally a test of breath, blood or urine) can receive a driver license revocation of at least one year (18 months for a commercial driver) and must pay a $500 civil penalty ($550 for a driver of commercial vehicles) to apply for a new driver license. A driver who refuses a chemical test during the five years after a DWI-related charge or previous refusal will have their driver license revoked for at least 18 months (permanent for a commercial driver) and must pay a $750 civil penalty to apply for a new driver license. If the driver is under age 21, and refuses a chemical test during the five years after a DWI-related charge or previous refusal, they will have their driver license revoked for at least one year or until age 21, whichever is longer and must pay a $750 civil penalty to apply for a new driver license.
- Zero Tolerance Law: A driver who is less than 21 years of age and who drives with a .02 BAC to .07 BAC violates the Zero Tolerance Law.
Every DWAI/DWI case has two components. First there is the criminal component i.e. what criminal charges have been filed against the Defendant. Second, there is the administrative component i.e. what action can the DMV take against the motorist's driving privilege. We see problems most often with commercial drivers. They were not adequately informed that most alcohol related charges will result in mandatory license suspension/revocation.
If you or a loved one has been charged with an alcohol related offense it is imperative that you are made aware of both the criminal and administrative consequences BEFORE accepting a plea offer. You can call Katz Lawyers at (212) 747-0606 or (718) 876-8105. 24/7/365.