New York City DWAI Lawyer

Every allegation that involves driving while drunk in New York City is a serious matter. However, Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol, or DWAI-Alcohol, is a violation of VTL §1192(1) and the only DWI offense not considered a crime within the state. Most often charged by New York City prosecutors as a lesser included offense to New York’s more serious misdemeanor and felony DWI crimes, DWAI-Alcohol proscribes the operation of a motor vehicle while in an impaired condition due to alcohol. While DWAI is not a crime in New York City, a conviction may still result in a jail sentence and the loss of a driver’s license.

For this reason, it is important that people understand their rights when dealing with these allegations. A New York City DWAI lawyer from the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman can advocate for an accused individual and help them prepare a defense. As these issues have the potential to truly alter your life, you should retain a skilled DWI attorney before taking any action on your own.

What is the Difference Between a DWI and DWAI Offense?

A common mistake made by many defendants charged with a DWAI-Alcohol offense is to confuse this standard of impairment to intoxication. To receive a DWI charge an individual must have a .08 or higher of blood alcohol content (BAC). To be considered impaired for DWAI-Alcohol a much lesser standard is required. There only needs to be some evidence that an individual’s motor skills or mental faculties were reduced due to alcohol consumption. Partly for this reason, DWAI-Alcohol is not the typical charge at arraignment after an arrest in New York City for drunk driving. Rather, it is almost always offered in the form of a plea to entice defendants to waive trial on more serious misdemeanor DWI charges brought by the state. Our New York City lawyers can review a DWAI case and determine if there is enough evidence to support this charge.

Relevant Provisions of §1192 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law for Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol

Carrying many of same fines and driving restrictions as its misdemeanor counterparts, a prosecutor’s offer of a plea to the non-criminal violation of DWAI-Alcohol is not, at least in every case, the panacea for a DWI arrest that many New York defense attorneys make it out to be. The penalties for a first-time offense include:

At the Judge’s Discretion

  • Incarceration in jail for up to 15 days
  • A fine of $300 to $500
  • Suspension of vehicle registration for a period of 90 days.
  • Attendance at a session of a victim impact panel

Penalties Required By Statute

  • Surcharge Fee of $250
  • Crime Victim Assistance Fee of $5
  • Suspension of License for a period of 90 days.
  • Required installation of ignition interlock device in any motor vehicle owned or operated by a defendant for a period of at least six months

If you have been previously convicted of a DWAI-Alcohol offense, the following enhanced penalties and fines may be imposed at sentencing:

At the Judge’s Discretion

  • Incarceration in jail for up to 30 days
  • A fine of $500 to $750
  • Revocation of vehicle registration for a period of at least six months

Penalties Required by Statute

  • Revocation of driver’s license for at least six months (Proof of participation in an Alcoholics Anonymous or similar alcohol abuse rehabilitative program must be supplied to DMV in any later application for re-licensing)

An individual whose license is revoked for having been convicted of a VTL § 1192(1) violation may be eligible to receive a conditional license for the period of loss of driving privileges.

How Can a New York City Attorney Build a Defense for a DWAI Case?

Charges involving allegations of DWAI offer defendants and New York City attorneys many possible avenues for defense. For instance, a lawyer may argue that a police officer did not have a proper reason to make a traffic stop. Since many DWAI cases initiate with a traffic stop, fighting back against a presumption of legality in a stop can be a first line of defense. If an attorney can successfully argue that a police officer’s stop was illegal, any evidence of intoxication obtained during this stop is inadmissible in court.

Another possible defense is cross-examining the arresting officer during trial. If an arrest is based solely upon that officer’s observations at the time of arrest, a defense lawyer may be able to point out flaws in that officer’s logic or observations while on the stand.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a New York City DWAI Attorney Today

The potential consequences for a DWAI conviction can be harsh. The law says that even though this is not a criminal conviction, the judge can order a person to spend time in jail. Additionally, the fines associated with a conviction in conjunction with the required alcohol-education course can be devastating. Finally, the required loss of license can affect every part of your life. Speak to one of our New York City DWAI lawyers today to schedule a free consultation on your case.

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