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Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) is one of New York’s drunk driving crimes. There are two different ways to commit the offense of drunk driving in the State of New York. The first way is to drive over the legal limit. In New York, driving over the legal limit is called Driving While Intoxicated.
The second way to be a drunk driver is to drive while alcohol impairs your ability to drive. New York law article 31, section 1192 prohibits driving while your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol. This offense is called Driving While Ability Impaired. Your blood alcohol content may be higher or lower than the legal limit. All that matters is that alcohol impairs your ability to drive.
To prove that a person is guilty of DWAI, the state must prove that the person committed each element of the offense. They must show that the person operated a motor vehicle. The evidence must show that the driver’s mental or physical capacities were impaired because of the use of alcohol.
There’s no specific chemical test to determine if a person is impaired by alcohol. Instead, the jury looks at the person’s physical condition and the way that they drove the vehicle. They can consider the observations of others about the person’s condition. If a crash occurred, the jury can consider the circumstances of the crash. If the person took a chemical test, the jury can consider the results.
A conviction for a first DWAI offense is a traffic infraction. That means you can spend up to fifteen days in jail if you’re convicted. The court may also order you to pay a fine of up to $500 along with other costs. The penalties for DWAI include a mandatory driver’s license suspension of ninety days.
Subsequent violations become much more serious. A second conviction within five years comes with up to thirty days in jail and a license suspension of six months. A third or subsequent offense can land you in jail for up to six months. With each additional offense, the fines become higher as well as the likelihood that your sentence includes significant jail time.
In addition to these penalties, you may receive court orders to participate in driver improvement and substance abuse treatment programs. One program is called a victim impact panel. This allows you to hear from victims and their families about the impact that drunk driving has on the community. Similarly, the drinking driver program educates attendees about traffic matters and the consequences of drunk driving.
If you’re facing a charge of driving while ability impaired, your Long Island DWAI lawyer can help evaluate your case for possible defenses. First, the police must have a lawful reason to interact with you. That is, they must have a constitutional reason to stop your vehicle, or they must have been called to the scene of an accident. If the police stopped your vehicle without a valid reason, your Long Island DWAI attorney can file paperwork to ask the court to suppress evidence.
Next, your attorney can help you evaluate each element of the case to see where the state lacks proof. There may be a question as to whether you were actually driving the vehicle. It’s not enough just to be sitting in the vehicle with the engine off. You must have the intent to put the vehicle in motion.
It’s a factual question as to whether alcohol impaired your ability to drive. What might be an open and shut case to the state attorney might not be so obvious to a jury. There may be innocent explanations for what the police said was impairment from alcohol. In addition, if the state gave you a chemical test, there are things that they need to do in order to ensure the accuracy of the test. If they fail do these things, it can invalidate the results of the test.
Reviewing the entire case
DWAI doesn’t always happen in a vacuum. That is, you might also face charges for reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident or disturbing the peace. You may have refused the chemical test that New York law article 31, section 1194 requires you to take.
All of these things are important to address. Our team of Long Island DWAI lawyers looks at your entire case holistically. That is, we consider the big picture, and we make sure that we determine the course of action.
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The consequences of a DWAI conviction are steep. If you’re facing these charges, an experienced attorney can help you evaluate the case against you and recommend a plan for your defense. There may be defenses available to you that you haven’t considered. Working with our Long Island DWAI attorneys can help you protect your rights and get back to your life as quickly as possible.