DWI versus DWAI in New York

You need to be very cautious any time you consume any amount of alcohol if you’re getting behind the wheel. While many New Yorkers may assume that they will only find themselves in hot water if they drive over the 0.08 BAC legal limit, that’s not always the case. Even if you don’t get charged with a DWI, you could find yourself receiving a DWAI, which still comes with serious consequences.

That’s why it’s important to understand the qualifications of each charge in order to avoid finding yourself behind bars.

The Difference Between a DWI and a DWAI in New York

Although both charges revolve around alcohol and/or drugs, there are some differences in each.

DWI in New York

A DWI charge is given when someone drives with a 0.08 blood alcohol content or other evidence of intoxication. If you’re driving a commercial vehicle, you can be charged with a DWI if you have a BAC of 0.04 or higher.

DWAI in New York

DWAI stands for “driving while ability impaired” and can be related to either drugs or alcohol. When related to alcohol, you can receive a DWAI if your BAC exceeds 0.05. When related to drugs, you can receive a DWAI if there is evidence of any amount of drugs in your system.

Penalties of DWI and DWAI in New York

DWI Penalties

If convicted of a DWI in New York State, you may face criminal charges, a $500-$1,000 fine, up to one year in jail, and a suspension of your license for a minimum of six months.

DWAI Penalties

If convicted of a DWAI in New York State, you may face a $300-$500 fine, up to 15 days in jail, and suspension of your license for 90 days.

Note: These penalties can be more severe if you receive a second, third, or aggravated DWI/DWAI or drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol are involved.

Have the Right Defense Against DWI Cases in Albany

Having handled thousands of DWI-related cases, we understand the complexities that each alcohol or drug-related case entails. It is important for an attorney to recognize the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case and to expose those issues in order to get you a better plea offer or more effectively fight your case through hearings and trial when necessary.


Begin planning your defense during a free consultation with O'Brien & Eggleston PLLC. Call (518) 240-9992 now.