New York takes driving while impaired or under the influence very seriously. If you are charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), you can face serious penalties. Even a first offense can affect your future. This is understandably very scary for many people facing their first DWI or DWAI charges. It’s important to understand what you may deal with on a first DWI arrest so that you are prepared.
To pull you over, a police officer must have probable cause to stop you. This includes erratic driving or other traffic infractions. If the police officer has reason to believe you are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or otherwise impaired, they will arrest you for a DWI.
In New York, DWI laws are based on blood alcohol content (BAC). If you are asked to complete a field sobriety test, you can refuse. However, New York’s implied consent law applies to chemical tests after a lawful arrest. If you are arrested and asked to take a test for blood or breath, refusing will result in civil penalties. This includes:
It will also mean the harshest penalty if you are then convicted of a DWI. It is in your interest to submit to a chemical test.
Penalties for a DWI charge increase the higher your BAC is when you’re arrested. If your BAC level is between .05% and .07% but your driving is impaired in any way, you will be charged with a DWAI, the least severe charge. A BAC from .08% to .17%, or other evidence that you are intoxicated, will result in a DWI. If you are pulled over with a BAC of .18% or higher, or you were driving impaired with a minor who is 15 years or younger, you will be charged with an aggravated DWI.
A DWAI charge is the least severe and may not even be a criminal charge in some cases. The types of DWAI you may be charged with include:
There is no required minimum sentence for these charges, and there are often additional requirements, such as attending victim impact panels for drunk drivers.
A DWI is more serious than a DWAI and is most often charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties for your first DWI conviction include:
An aggravated DWI carries the harshest first-offense penalties. They include:
If your BAC level is over .18% at the same time as having a passenger who is under the age of 16, you will likely face a felony charge.
A: Depending on the circumstances of your arrests and your blood alcohol content (BAC), you may face up to a year in jail. Your license is revoked for at least six months, and you pay a mandatory fine from $500 to $1,000. During the time your license is revoked, driving will result in significantly more severe penalties. You may be eligible for a limited license to allow you to drive between home and work and to use in emergencies.
A: There is no minimum mandatory jail time for a first-time DWI or DWAI. This means you may be required to pay a fine, have your license revoked for a certain period, and submit to alternate sentencing, such as probation, as ordered by the court. However, you could face up to a year in jail for a first-time DWI or drug-related DWAI. Whether you are sentenced to jail time or not will depend on factors such as your BAC and your DWI defense attorney.
A: If you work with a dedicated DWI defense attorney, there is a possibility that your DWI case can be dismissed. This also depends on the specifics of your arrest and case. Your attorney may be able to argue that there is not enough evidence to charge or convict you. Additionally, there may have been a procedural error or miscarriage of justice during or after your arrest. For example, the police officer who pulled you over may not have had reasonable cause to do so, or the chemical test may have been inaccurate.
A: With a skilled attorney, you may be able to get a DWI reduced to a DWAI. If you were only under the influence of alcohol and no other drugs or controlled substances, a DWAI is only a violation, while a DWI is a misdemeanor. A plea bargain is where you plead guilty to a lesser offense and may be the ideal option for some cases.
If you are facing charges for driving while intoxicated, it’s important to have a strong legal defense. A DWI conviction will go on your permanent criminal record, which can affect housing and job opportunities in the future. Contact The Vitaliano Law Firm when you need comprehensive legal representation after a DWI or DWAI charge.