Let a Skilled Attorney Fight for You Schedule a Free Consultation
Law gavel, alcohol and car keys on a wooden desk
Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC May 6, 2024

DUI vs. DWI in New York

In New York State, the terms commonly associated with impaired driving are often misunderstood due to the nuanced legal distinctions between them. Though many states use DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) interchangeably, New York doesn't use the term DUI. Instead, the state prefers to use DWI and DWAI to categorize and penalize impaired driving. 

New York DWI vs. DWAI Laws 

Legally, New York primarily recognizes DWI as the offense of operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher for drivers of standard vehicles and 0.04% for commercial drivers.  

On the other hand, the state introduced a lesser charge, DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired). DWAI is for motorists found to have a BAC between 0.05% and 0.07%, or exhibiting impairment due to alcohol or drugs.  

What Constitutes Impairment in New York? 

Drivers in New York can be deemed impaired by more than just alcohol. Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and illegal substances can also contribute to impairment. The law takes a broad approach, considering any substance that affects a driver's nervous system, muscles, or brain activity as potentially impairing. 

BAC limits are not one-size-fits-all, and the law is sensitive to specific demographics. Commercial drivers and those with higher BAC levels face even more stringent repercussions. 

The Legal Fallout of a DUI or DWI Conviction 

A conviction for a DWI or DWAI in New York is not a trivial matter. The penalties can be severe and carry long-term effects that ripple through various aspects of your life. Immediate consequences often include fines, license suspension, community service, enrollment in education programs, and even jail time for egregious offenses. 

Beyond the Courtroom 

Along with the legal consequences, there are many other consequences too.  

Auto insurance premiums can skyrocket, job opportunities may dwindle, and individuals might encounter difficulties obtaining housing. While the immediate fine and loss of driving privileges are significant, these secondary consequences can be equally life-altering.  

New York’s ignition interlock device (IID) program is a prime example, where individuals with certain DWI convictions must blow into an alcohol-sensing device before starting their vehicles. This mandate can last months or even years, impacting mobility and autonomy. 

What to Do After You're Arrested 

Being arrested for DUI or DWI starts an often long process. From sobriety checks and chemical tests on-site to court appearances and potential plea bargains, it's important that you don't face it alone. 

The Gravity of Chemical Testing 

A driver’s refusal to submit to a BAC test, typically administered via breath, blood, or urine, can lead to immediate suspension of driving privileges and may possibly be used against him or her in court.  

Crafting a Defense 

When charged with a DWI or DWAI in New York, there are several defense strategies that may be employed depending on the details of the case, including: 

  • Faulty Equipment. One common defense is challenging the accuracy of the BAC testing equipment. This might involve questioning the calibration of the breathalyzer or the procedures followed during the test.  

  • Legality of the Traffic Stop. Another approach is to scrutinize the legality of the traffic stop itself; if the stop was conducted without reasonable suspicion, any evidence gathered as a result could be deemed inadmissible.  

  • Medical Conditions. Defendants might argue that their impairment was not due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs but could be attributed to medical conditions that mimic impairment symptoms, such as diabetes or neurological disorders. In cases where prescription medication is involved, proving that the individual was taking medicine according to a doctor’s prescription and not exceeding recommended doses can be a viable defense. 

Legal defenses in DWI/DWAI cases are highly technical and require a thorough understanding of both the law and the specifics of each charge. It's crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can explore all possible defense options to mitigate the consequences or potentially have the charges reduced or dismissed.  

Legal Counsel's Role in Acquittal or Mitigation 

Seeking legal counsel is more than a recommendation; it's a strategic move that can significantly affect the outcome of your case. A criminal defense attorney, particularly one with expertise in DUI/DWI defense, is equipped to scrutinize the evidence and build a case that presents your side effectively in court. 

Understand Your Rights 

For individuals grappling with the aftermath of a DWI or DWAI charge, know that our attorneys at the Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC are on your side, offering opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation. With the right guidance and a proactive approach, you can pave a new path forward.  

Engage with local resources, seek out legal expertise, and absorb the wealth of education surrounding DUI and DWI—it might just be the knowledge that steers you clear of legal entanglements in the future.


DUI vs. DWI in New York  -

Though many states use DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) interchangeably, New York doesn't use the term DUI. Instead, the state prefers to use DWI and DWAI to categorize and penalize impaired driving.

Read More
What Men Should Do If Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence  -

At the Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC, we stand firm in our commitment to defend and support men unjustly accused of domestic violence. Our mission extends beyond the courtroom; we aim to restore the dignity, freedom, and future of those who have been falsely accused.

Read More