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Drinking and driving is a serious crime. Due to many high profile arrests and horrible tragedies, New York has steadily increased the penalties for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol/Drugs). If you have been arrested for DWI/DWAI in New York, you need experienced legal representation.
 If you have been arrested for DWI / DWAI there are several different charges the police may bring against you.  Each one carries the possibility of jail time and other significant penalties.
Driving While Intoxicated (per se) (VTL 1192.2) [1st offense]
This is the most common DWI charge.  This is most often seen when the motorist consents to a chemical (breathalyzer) or blood test which ultimately shows their blood alcohol level to be .08 or above.  DWI per se (VTL 1192.2) is a misdemeanor crime, which means it carries a maximum of one year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines and a mandatory six month revocation of your driver's license. 
In addition, after the passage of Leandra's Law, anyone convicted of this charge must install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they own or have access to, at their own expense.  For more information on the Ignition Interlock requirement click here.  Ignition Interlock
Driving While Intoxicated (common law)  (VTL 1192.3) [1st offense]
This charge is brought when the officer believes the motorist is intoxicated by alcohol based on his/her observations.  This charge usually applies when the motorist has refused to take a chemical test, but the officer still believes the motorist to be intoxicated.  This charge can also be brought in conjuction with VTL 1192.2, in the event that the results of a chemical test have been thrown out by the court for some reason.
(Note:  If you refuse a chemical (breath/urine) test, you could also face additional penalties from the Department of Motor Vehicles, separate from your criminal charge.  Please see DMV Chemical Test Refusal Hearings for more information)
VTL 1192.3 carries the exact same penalties as VTL 1192.2.  They are both misdemeanor crimes and carry the same sentencing requirements.  If you are convicted of this charge you will also be required to install an Ignition Interlock device on your vehicle.  The only difference with this charge is that it can be somewhat more difficult for the district attorney to prove their case because they cannot simply rely on the results of the chemical test to prove intoxication. 
Instead the district attorney must rely on the officer's testimony and his/her observations of the defendant.  In these circumstances, cross examination of the officer's training, experience and recollection of the incident will be crucial.
Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (VTL 1192.2a) [1st offense]
Aggravated DWI is a misdemeanor crime that applies whenever a defendant registers higher than a .18% blood alcohol level.  Therefore if a defendant has refused a chemical test (breathalyzer), he/she cannot be charged with Aggravated DWI. 
Although this is still a misdemeanor charge, Aggravated DWI carries harsher penalties than ordinary DWI.  For example, the maximum fine amount is $2,500, and the defendant's driver's license will receive a mandatory one year revocation.  This charge is also punishable by up to one year in jail.  The defendant will also be required to install an Ignition Interlock device on his/her vehicle if convicted.
Because of the higher blood alcohol level involved in Aggravated DWI cases, the possibility of jail time and other harsh sentences is usually increased.  While the circumstances of each case will vary, it is important to retain an experienced DWI attorney at an early stage to ensure that your rights are protected.
Felony Driving While Intoxicated [1st offense]
If you have been convicted a prior misdemeanor DWI within the last 10 years, then your second offense will be a class E Felony.  If your prior DWI was out of state, the facts and circumstances of your case will determine if your charge will be classified as a Felony.  A Felony DWI charge is very serious.  It carries a maximum of 4 years in a state prison and up to $5,000 in fines.  It will also carries a mandatory 1 year revocation of your driver's license and requires the installation of an Ignition Interlock device on your vehicle. 
In addition, a Felony conviction carries additional penalties outside of the courtroom.  A convicted Felon can lose their right to vote, right to own a firearm, as well as hold certain public offices and licenses (such as a liquor license, notary public, etc.).  A Felony conviction can also result in deportation for certain immigrants and can adversely effect an individual's application for citizenship. 
As a result, Felony charges should be taken very seriously.  It may be possible to have your charges reduced to a misdemeanor regardless of your prior conviction.  Whether your case is plea bargained or goes all the way to trial, you will need an aggressive and experienced DWI attorney to advise you of your options.
Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol. (VTL 1192.1)
Driving while ability impaired by alcohol (VTL 1192.1) is actually a traffic violation, which means technically it is not a crime.  Under New York State Law only misdemeanors and felonies are considered crimes.  However despite the fact that this is only a traffic violation, it still carries some significant penalties.  VTL 1192.1 carries a maximum of 15 days in jail, up to $500 in fines as well as a mandatory 90 day suspension of your driver's license.  As a result, you will definitely need legal representation before you appear in court on this charge.
This charge is usually brought against a defendant who registers between a .05 and .07 blood alcohol level.  However even if a defendant's blood alcohol level is in this range, it's still possible to show that their ability to operate a motor vehicle was not impaired.  For this reason, you need to contact an experienced DWI attorney to examine the circumstances of your case.
Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (VTL 1192.4)
Driving while ability impaired by drugs (DWAI by drugs) is a misdemeanor charge that applies whenever an individual is impaired by any drug classified by the New York State Public Health Law.  As such, this includes impairment from marajuana, narcotics, and even legally obtained prescription drugs.
DWAI by drugs carries virtually the same penalties as misdemeanor DWI.  Both will result in a lifetime criminal record, as well as a six month revocation of their driver's license.  It carries a maximum of 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. 
However to prove DWAI by drugs the prosecution must not only prove that drugs were present in the defendant's bloodstream, but must also prove that these drugs actually impaired the defendant's ability to operate a motor vehicle.  This differs from ordinary DWI, where the prosecution can often rely on a breath test that shows the defendant's blood alcohol level was .08 or above.  Cross examination of the officer as well as review of the drug tests (if applicable) will be crucial to a successful defense against this charge.
For a free consultation about your case and to find out more about your legal options, contact our office today at (347) 531-1757.  Contact Us