Alcohol affects everyone differently. Even though the state of New York considers 0.08 to be legally intoxicated, it may not represent the same level of drunkenness for everyone. Likewise, some individuals may be super sensitive to the effects of alcohol and experience the tipsy effect at a much lower level. To bridge the gap between legal intoxication at 0.08 and an alcohol sensitive person’s impairment at a lower level, officers have a charge known as a DWAI or driving while ability impaired.
While a charge for DUI requires a person to have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 to be considered legally intoxicated, the charge for DWAI only requires a driver to have a BAC of 0.05 to 0.07. Officers that witness a driver driving recklessly or impaired may request a BAC test. If they are exhibiting any signs of intoxication or impairment and have a BAC of 0.05 to 0.07, they can be charged with DWAI.
Both a DUI and DWAI can become a felony charge on the second occurrence if it is within 10 years of the first. They also both carry similar penalties such as stiff fines and license revocation. The fines and penalties can be different if the DUI or DWAI are drug related and not alcohol related.
It is common knowledge that a BAC of 0.08 is usually needed for a DUI charge. However, not many people understand that a DWAI is another possible charge that alcohol sensitive individuals may face. For individuals that are biologically more sensitive to alcohol than others, being charged with a DWAI is a punishment that doesn’t fit the crime. If you have been charged with a DWAI, you may benefit from speaking with a DUI defense attorney. With their help, you can save your record and reduce or eliminate the charges.