New York City DWAI

Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol, or DWAI-Alcohol for short, is a violation of VTL § 1192(1) and the only DWI offense not considered a crime within New York State (felony or misdemeanor). 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. A common mistake by many defendants charged with a DWAI-Alcohol offense is to confuse this standard of impairment to intoxication, the legal standard for DWI that is reflected by the legal limit of .08 or higher of blood alcohol content (BAC). To be considered impaired for DWAI-Alcohol a much lesser standard is required: only some evidence that your 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. As these issues are complicated and have the potential to truly alter your life, a skilled New York City DWI attorney should be retained before contemplating a guilty plea to a DWAI-Alcohol offense.

Relevant Provisions of Section 1192 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) by Alcohol

“Driving while ability impaired. No person shall operate a motor vehicle while the person’s ability to operate such motor vehicle is impaired by the consumption of alcohol.”

VTL 1192.1

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 DWI 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.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today With the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman

For more information on the VTL § 1192 offense of DWAI-Alcohol, specifically, how prosecutors’ overcharging of these cases can present hurdles to an acquittal at trial without proper representation, additional articles are available here.

Speak to one of the attorneys of the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman today at (212) 581-1001 to schedule a free consultation on your New York DWI or DWAI-Alcohol case.

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