The Difference Between DWI and DWAI

The laws governing drunk driving prosecution in New York are complex, and there is sometimes confusion about what different charges mean. The difference of just a few simple letters can affect what penalties a driver faces and how those penalties should be fought.

DWI, DUI, DWAI -- What's The Difference?

DWI stands for "driving while intoxicated," the legal term for drunk driving charges in New York. Drivers suspected of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent or higher are charged with DWI, which is a crime in New York.

DUI or "driving under the influence" is a term used in other states to refer to drunk driving. Many people use the term DUI to refer to charges in New York, but DWI is the correct term.

DWAI stands for "driving while ability impaired." This is a less serious offense than DWI. While DWI is a criminal charge, DWAI is actually considered a traffic infraction. It is sometimes possible to plea a DWI down to a DWAI, which is beneficial in some cases.

Aggravated DWI is a more serious offense that carries greater penalties. A DWI or DWAI may be charged as an aggravated DWI if one or more aggravating factors are present:

  • The driver had a BAC of .18 percent or higher
  • There was a child under 15 years old in the car

No Matter Your Charges, The Right Attorney Is Critical

It is critical to protect your interests in the face of any charges involving DWI and traffic laws. Work with an experienced defense lawyer to safeguard your rights and your driving privileges.

At Katz Lawyers, we have nearly 20 years of experience assisting people facing charges like yours. To learn how we can use that experience to help you, contact us for a consultation. Call our offices in Manhattan at 646-835-2330 or in Staten Island at 718-876-8105. We represent people in all five boroughs of New York and throughout the state.