New York DWAI-Alcohol Law Firm
While the legal blood alcohol concentration or blood alcohol content (BAC) that exposes a driver to potential punishment is .08 percent in most states, New York law permits a driver to be punished with a BAC level as low as .05 percent for a lesser offense. Although a first offense of driving while ability impaired-alcohol (DWAI-Alcohol) is not a criminal offense, the charge still must be taken seriously because it can result in significant penalties. If you are proven to have committed DWAI-Alcohol, you will face loss of your driving privileges, steep fines, and other costs. The violation also might appear on your driving record for a decade and permanently damage your job and rental housing prospects by showing up in background checks.
Understanding the Offense of DWAI-Alcohol in New York
While a motorist will be arrested for DWI with a .08 percent BAC as a “per se” offense, which means that the driver does not have to show any evidence of impairment, drivers with a BAC of .05 to .07 can be charged with DWAI-Alcohol. A first conviction of this offense constitutes the equivalent of a traffic violation rather than a criminal violation like a DWI offense. Although a first offense is not a misdemeanor, the standard of proof is still beyond a reasonable doubt.
At Greco Neyland, PC, the former prosecutors that founded our law firm always recommend that our clients fight these cases at trial. If you are charged under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192(1) (the DWAI law), the prosecutor must prove you were actually “impaired” by alcohol. While a chemical test that shows your BAC exceeds .05 percent can be introduced as evidence of impairment, this is not a “per se” violation. The prosecutor cannot prevail by simply proving that your BAC level exceeded the minimum threshold to constitute a violation. By comparison, the prosecutor only needs to establish “intoxication” to obtain a DWI conviction, which means that you can be convicted with a .08 percent BAC even if your mental and physical driving ability were not affected in any way.
Penalties for Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol
DWI also carries stiffer punishment than a DWAI conviction, but the penalties associated with a DWAI-Alcohol violation can cause serious hardships. The penalties for a DWAI-Alcohol conviction are set forth below:
- First Offense – Maximum of 15 days in jail, as well as up to a 90 day driver’s license suspension and a fine of $300 to $500;
- Second Conviction within 5 Years – Maximum of 30 days in jail and a minimum driver’s license revocation of six (6) months, in addition to a fine of $500 to $750; and
- Third Conviction within 5 Years – Maximum jail term of 90 days and a driver’s license revocation for at least six (6) months as well as a fine of $750 to $1,500.
Defense Strategies in Driving While Intoxicated Cases
Our White Plains DWAI-Alcohol attorneys frequently challenge the police officer’s grounds for the stop, the field sobriety testing procedures, and the officer’s observations during the stop. When an accused makes incriminating statements during the stop, we scrutinize the arrest report and other evidence to determine whether the statement may be excluded because it was involuntarily obtained or acquired in violation of Miranda rights.
Aside from the challenges that a prosecutor faces in obtaining a conviction in DWAI-Alcohol cases, there is another reason that we often recommend proceeding to trial in these cases. Since the offense is a traffic infraction, it already is the least serious type of offense, so a plea reduction to a lesser offense is not really feasible. Prosecutors typically offer nothing more than the option to plead guilty to the charged offense, which means that you have no reason not to fight at trial.
At Greco Neyland, PC, our skilled driving while ability impaired (DWAI) lawyers represent clients in White Plains and the surrounding areas of New York. We offer a free consultation so we can answer your questions and explain your legal rights. Please call us today at (914) 358-9146 or click here to schedule your free consultation.