This guide provides an overview of DWI charges in New York State.
Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (NY VTL Section 1192 )
A person may be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI) if he or she operates a motor vehicle when his or her ability has been impaired by the consumption of alcohol. DWAI is NOT a criminal offense. While there are harsh penalties associated with this offense, it is classified as a traffic violation. Therefore, a conviction for DWAI is not a criminal conviction in New York State.
Driving While Intoxicated Per Se (NY VTL Section 1192 )
A person may be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Per Se if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. Generally, DWI is a misdemeanor in New York State; however, it should be noted that individuals with prior alcohol-related convictions may face felony charges for having multiple convictions.
Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (NY VTL Section 1192 [2a-a])
A person may be charged with Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (ADWI) if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.18% or more. Generally, ADWI is a misdemeanor in New York State; however, the fines and penalties associated with it are more severe than DWAI and DWI
Driving While Intoxicated with a Child - (NY VTL Section 1192 [2a-b])
If an individual is charged with an alcohol related offense (DWI, ADWI) and there was a child (age fifteen or younger) in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the charge will constitute a felony (even on a first offense).
Driving While Intoxicated (NY VTL Section 1192 )
This category of DWI is sometimes referred to as the "common law" DWI. A person may be charged with common law DWI if he or she operates a motor vehicle in an "intoxicated condition." Unlike DWI Per se, which is based on the motorist's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), Common law DWI is based on the arresting officer's observations of an individual operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. Oftentimes, an individual who refuses to submit to a chemical test will be charged with Common Law DWI.
Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (NY VTL Section 1192 )
A person can be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs if he or she operates a motor vehicle while his or her ability is impaired by the consumption of a drug. It is important to note, an individual who has a valid prescription for a drug can be charged under this section.
Driving While Ability Impaired by the Combination of Drugs/Alcohol (NY VTL Section 1192 [4a])
An individual can be charged under the "combined influence" section if he or she operates a motor vehicle while under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol, or by the combination of different drugs.
In addition to those listed above, there are other Vehicle and Traffic Law provisions pertaining to underage drivers (under 21) and CDL holders (Commercial Driver's License).
Additional resources provided by the author
To read the actual statutory language of Section 1192 of New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law see the following link
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