What does DWAI mean? How is it different from DUI?

Not sure what does DWAI mean? Or looking for the difference between DWAI and DUI? Then you will be served with the complete information on both acronyms in today’s post.

What does DWAI mean?

DWAI is an acronym used for Driving While Ability Impaired. The United States has different laws defining the liability of DWAI. In New York City, DWAI liability can be imposed on someone if they are charged with Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol, Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol or drugs, and Driving While Ability Impaired by a drug or illegal substance.

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicle, a DWAI/Alcohol can be charged if a driver has above 0.05 BAC but under 0.7 BAC or any evidence of being under other types of DWAIs when he was pulled over.

The first time offenders of DWAIs will be charged with;

Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol

  • Mandatory fine between $300 and $500
  • Imprisonment of twelve months
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to 90 days

Driving While Ability Impaired by Drug (prescription or illegal)

  • Mandatory fine between $500 and $1000
  • Imprisonment of twelve months
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to six months

Driving While Ability Impaired by both drugs and alcohol

  • Mandatory fine between $500 and $1000
  • Imprisonment of twelve months
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to six months

Offenders with repeated DWAI offenses will eventually have harsher penalties. For instance, if you have been convicted for DWAI, three times in the past three years, then you could be charged with a fine of $10,000 and 7 years of imprisonment. 

What is the main difference between DWAI, DUI, and DWI?

Oftentimes people believe that DWAI and DUI are two interchangeable terms used to charge upon traffic violation. In fact, drivers in New York must know that there are significant differences between both acronyms.

DUI – driving under influence is a common term used by almost every state other than New York. In NYC, there are two offenses of drunk driving, DWI and DWAI. Here DWI stands for ‘driving while intoxicated’ and DWAI stands for ‘Driving While Ability Impaired’.

Driving while intoxicated refers to a traffic violation when the driver is driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.8%.

DWAI is something intense that relates to the impairment of the driver. The charge will be imposed on drivers driving under the influence of illegal drugs which are prescribed. OR DWAI by alcohol will be charged for people driving under drugs and alcohol under the blood alcohol content of a minimum of 0.5 % to a maximum of 0.7%.

Particularly in New York. DWAI-alcohol is a violation having penalties similar to DWAI-Drugs convictions. These penalties include mandatory revocation of driving license, fines, potential jail time, and probation. Depending on the number of violations, every new violation with a history of conviction will bring new and even strict penalties.

In addition, with the fines and penalties, after the release, DWI offenders will be mandatorily obligated to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. An interlock ignition is a breathalyzer connected with the engine of a vehicle. Before starting the engine, the driver must use this device. If any traces of alcohol or drugs were detected, the engine wouldn’t start. Every driver in New York convicted of DWI is required to install this ignition interlock for one year in their vehicles, adhering to any other associated penalties.

Any previous DWI conviction can lead to additional penalties and felony charges.

Possible defenses against DWAI

To convict a defendant for drunk driving charges, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant;

  • Was driving under the influence (since DWAI and DWI need a specific percentage to bring charges, the prosecutor needs to prove the presence of a significant percentage of drugs or alcohol in the defendant’s blood).
  • Driving a vehicle (was not just sitting in the car)

Also, to prove impairment, the observation of the officers can play an important part in the prosecution’s case while proving charges. These observations include;

  • The odor of alcohol
  • Poor FST performance
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Bad driving

To beat the charges, the defendant might need to face challenges to resist the officer’s observations. This cannot be easy as may seem, but depending on the circumstances it becomes even more challenging to convince judges that the officer’s observations about DUI convictions were incorrect.  You can beat the charges by possible defenses that include;

  • Bringing eyewitnesses from the scene who may have seen things differently. Or (you may have someone in the vehicle along with you)
  • Explaining valid reasons behind your inaccurate behavior and appearance

Talk to an attorney

If you or your loved one is charged with drunk driving charges, then it is a must that you should seek legal advice. Contacting a criminal defense attorney will help you through the process and fight for a better outcome for your case.

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