DWI and DWAI in New York

New York’s DWI Laws Include Penalties for BACs BELOW the Legal Limit!

You have heard the slogan “buzzed driving is drunk driving.” This phrase implies that drinking any amount of alcohol and getting behind the wheel can be dangerous. New York’s DWI laws reflect this implication. The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) in New York is .08. However, even a BAC below the legal limit can result in significant penalties. If your BAC is between a .05 and .07 or there is any other evidence of impairment, you can be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired, more commonly known as a DWAI. Unlike a DWI, this offense results in a violation not a criminal charge (misdemeanor or felony).

There are several types of DWI and DWAI offenses in the State of New York:


Aggravated DWI:

DWAI (Alcohol):

DWAI (Drugs):

DWAI (Combination):

Zero Tolerance Law:

Leandra’s Law:

BAC of .08 or higher or other evidence of intoxication

BAC of .18 or higher

BAC is between .05 and .07 or other evidence of impairment

Evidence of impairment due to drugs

Evidence of impairment due to a combination of drugs and alcohol

Under the age of 21 and BAC is between .02 and .07

Drinking and driving with a child under the age of 15

Keep in mind that the level of impairment from alcohol depends on how much you drink, how much you have eaten, how long you were drinking, body weight and gender. The body can process alcohol at a rate of about one drink per hour, however these various factors can change the speed of processing. Make sure you have a rideshare app downloaded on your phone, a designated driver or a backup ride if you plan to drink.

Penalties for the above offenses vary depending on your license type, your age, whether you have prior related convictions, whether you violated Leandra’s Law and whether you submitted to a breath test, blood or urine test. Fines, jail time, community service, license suspension and/or the enrollment in the Drinking Driving Program and Victim Impact Panel are common penalties imposed by the New York criminal justice system for drug and alcohol convictions.

Finding an experienced attorney in New York State to handle your case can make a huge difference in the severity of your sentence. Should you have questions about DWIs or DWAIs do not hesitate to call the DWI lawyers at Spiegel, Brown and Fichera, LLP who have defended DWI and DWAI cases throughout the Hudson Valley and will evaluate your case free of charge.