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DWI is a criminal offense that involves operating a motor vehicle with unlawful amounts of alcohol in one's system. A driver may also face DWI charges for driving while "under the influence" of alcohol or a controlled substance, which means that his or her physical or mental abilities are impaired because of alcohol or drug use (regardless of the particular level of alcohol in the driver's breath or blood).
Before legally appearing court to challenge the allegations that have been made against you, there are many steps you will be expected to take, the most important being those to understand the criminal charges you are facing. In New York, DUI and DWI are commonly used interchangeably. However, legally speaking, the two acronyms actually represent two different offenses.
In some cases, you could even incur a DWAI (driving while ability impaired [by alcohol]). This is a charge often issued to persons who have been caught driving while intoxicated with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of less than the standard .08% that is normally required to warrant a DWI arrest. Persons with a BAC between .05% and .07%, as well as those who show other evidential signs of impairment, are subject to being charged with a DWAI.
The DWI / DUI penalty system was designed specifically to encourage those drivers who have already received one offense of this nature to stray from ever doing so again. As such, the penalties for each additional offense become increasingly harsher:
In addition, your fines will include mandatory conviction surcharges, as well as a crime victims' assistance fee. These costs alone could total hundreds of dollars. Assuming your second or third DWI convictions occur within a five-year period, the penalties of a conviction will be even harsher, regardless of whether or not there was a crash, injuries or fatalities involved.
If you took a breath or blood test and failed, you may feel as though there is no way of avoiding a conviction. This is simply not the case! By thoroughly investigating all aspects of your arrest, the initial police stop, field sobriety testing and your breath test or blood test, a DWI lawyer can determine whether law enforcement may have made a mistake or violated your rights in any way. These situations may result in lessened charges, an acquittal in court or possibly dropped DWI/DUI charges altogether. Every case is different, so it is crucial to discuss your unique situation with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
Contact a New York DWI attorney today to learn more.