Below are five things you may not know about DWI charges for New York residents.

1. DWI v. DWAI

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a different, more serious charge than driving while ability impaired (DWAI). Each charge has different criteria and different penalties. A first-time DWI offense is a criminal charge while a first-time DWAI is only a traffic offense. A DWI requires the motorist to be intoxicated while driving, meaning he or she has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or more.  A DWAI means that a driver is impaired (not intoxicated) with a BAC level between 0.05% and 0.07%. Penalties for DWAI, while harsh, are less severe than for DWI.

2. Penalties for DWI

Penalties for a first-time DWI conviction include up to 1 year in jail; a maximum fine of up to $1,000, in addition to a mandatory New York State surcharge of $400; a 6-month license revocation; and the required installation/maintenance of ignition interlock device for 1 year. Remember, all of these penalties can be levied against a driver convicted for his or her first offense. Penalties will increase with each subsequent DWI charge.

3. Repeat Offenders

New York, like most states, has DWI repeat offender laws designed to punish multiple drunk driving incidents by any one driver. These repeat offender laws impose harsher penalties on drivers who commit a DWI within 10 years of a prior conviction or convictions for an alcohol-related offense (other than DWAI). Notably, the New York State Legislature just passed a proposed law that will increase this period to 15 years!  That driver may be charged with a Felony DWI. This felony charge is clearly more serious than a first-time misdemeanor DWI. If a driver is convicted of Felony DWI, he or she can face up to 7 years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and a driver’s license revocation for years – perhaps for life.

4. Future Consequence of DWI    

Besides the immediate criminal penalties, a DWI conviction will have a major impact on the driver’s life. DWI convictions show up in criminal background checks, impacting current and future employment or volunteer opportunities. Furthermore, colleges and universities may consider the conviction when weighing the driver’s application for admission. If the driver is interested in military service, a DWI conviction may negatively affect that application as well. The penalties themselves can include high fines and court surcharges, which can be difficult for many drivers to pay. As mentioned above, a DWI will remain on a driver’s criminal record for life, and will elevate any future DWI charges they may face.

5. Your Attorney Matters

A DWI is a serious criminal charge that you must not take lightly. With far-reaching legal and personal consequences, any driver facing DWI needs to hire an experienced, highly trained lawyer. At Nave DWI Defense Attorneys, our DWI attorneys are up to date on New York’s changing DWI laws and pride themselves in providing excellent legal advice to every client. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you. Having helped thousands of New York drivers, Nave DWI Defense Attorneys lawyers have proven they can get the job done right. We will work closely with you during the case, answering your questions and taking the time to explain the process fully. With so much at risk during a DWI case, do not take a chance with anyone else. Contact Nave DWI Defense Attorneys to schedule a free case evaluation.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.  Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 432 N. Franklin Street, Suite 80, Syracuse, NY 13204; Telephone No.: 1-866-792-7800.  Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.  Attorney Advertising.