New York Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)
New York has multiple statutes designed to prevent people from driving while intoxicated. Section 1192 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law outlines the laws governing the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This statute covers a broad range of scenarios, from driving while slightly impaired by alcohol to driving while heavily intoxicated by drugs. The first section of the statute, Section 1, pertains to Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) by alcohol. This section makes it illegal for any person to operate a motor vehicle while their ability to operate such a vehicle is impaired by the consumption of alcohol. In other words, if a driver's ability to drive is affected by alcohol to any degree, they can be charged with a DWAI offense. The penalties for DWAI can involve not only jail time, they can also involve license suspension which can impact your ability to work and take care of family business. If you are facing a DWAI charged, contact an experienced New York DWI lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience, we have the knowledge and skill to help ensure your legal rights are protected.Blood Alcohol Concentration
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol present in a person's bloodstream. BAC is typically expressed as a percentage, with 0.08% being the legal limit for driving in most states, including New York. When a person drinks alcohol, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and quickly distributed throughout the body. The liver then processes the alcohol and eliminates it from the body. However, when someone drinks alcohol faster than their liver can metabolize it, their BAC increases, leading to impairment of cognitive and physical abilities.
BAC is influenced by several factors, including the amount and type of alcohol consumed, the person's body weight and metabolism, the time frame over which the alcohol is consumed, and the presence of food in the stomach.
Section 1192.1 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, the DWAI statute, is not limited to a specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. It is not focused on whether someone is legally intoxicated. Under section 1192.1, even if a driver's BAC is below the legal limit of 0.08%, the driver can still be charged with a DWAI offense if they show signs of impairment such as slurred speech, slowed reaction time, or poor coordination.Driving Requirement
As an experienced New York DWI lawyer will explain, for purposes of the DWAI statute, the term “driving” has a very broad, counterintuitive meaning. It means more than just actively operating a vehicle. In New York, you can also be charged with DWAI if you are found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. For example, if you are sitting in the driver's seat with the keys in the ignition, even if the engine is off, you could still be charged with DWAI.Penalties for DWAI in New York
The penalties for a DWAI offense in New York can vary depending on the circumstances. First-time offenders can face a fine of up to $500, a jail sentence of up to 15 days, and a license suspension of up to 90 days. Repeat offenders or those with aggravated circumstances can face much harsher penalties. Aggravating factors are covered under other subsections of the Section 1192 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law. If you have questions about which subsection the Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs statute might be relevant to your case, contact an experienced DWI attorney in New York.Notable New York Cases About DWAI
People v. Cruz, 97 A.D.3d 712 (2d Dept. 2012). In this case, the defendant was charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol) under New York statute § 1192, Section 1. The defendant had been stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, and a police officer testified that he smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech, and failed field sobriety tests. The defendant argued that the checkpoint was unconstitutional and that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest him. However, the court held that the checkpoint was legal and that the officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant based on his observations of the defendant's behavior. The defendant was convicted of DWAI/Alcohol and sentenced to probation.
People v. Wheeler, 25 Misc. 3d 1230(A) (N.Y. City Crim. Ct. 2009). In this case, the defendant was charged with DWAI/Alcohol under New York statute § 1192, Section 1. The defendant had been driving erratically, and a police officer pulled him over. The officer smelled alcohol on the defendant's breath, and the defendant failed a field sobriety test. The defendant argued that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest him and that the field sobriety test was improperly administered. However, the court held that the officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant based on his observations of the defendant's behavior, and that the field sobriety test was administered properly. The defendant was convicted of DWAI/Alcohol and fined.
People v. Badger, 155 A.D.3d 1374 (4th Dept. 2017). In this case, the defendant was charged with DWAI/Alcohol under New York statute § 1192, Section 1, and with driving while intoxicated (DWI) under New York statute § 1192, Section 2. The defendant had been involved in a single-vehicle accident, and a police officer responded to the scene. The officer testified that the defendant smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, and failed field sobriety tests. The defendant argued that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest him and that the field sobriety tests were improperly administered. However, the court held that the officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant based on his observations of the defendant's behavior, and that the field sobriety tests were administered properly. The defendant was convicted of both DWAI/Alcohol and DWI and sentenced to probation.Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates If you are facing a DWAI charge, it is important to have experienced legal representation to help you fight the charge. Because a DWAI is a low level driving violation, there is nothing to plead it down to and most prosecutors will hold you to the charge. This means you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by obtaining the services of a skilled DWI attorney serving New York and fighting the charge. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.