DUI vs. DWI in New York

If you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in New York City, you could be charged with a DWI or DWAI. New York does not use the term DUI- driving under the influence– instead, you face a driving while impaired, DWI, or driving while ability impaired, DWAI, charge. Both of those charges vary according to a person’s blood alcohol concentration.

A driver with a blood alcohol concentration between 0.05 percent and 0.07 percent can be charged with a DWAI. Since the legal limit in New York is 0.08 percent, a DWI is not a criminal offense; it’s a traffic infraction. But a DWAI still has troubling consequences, including up to 15 days in jail, suspension of driver’s license suspension, and fines up to $500.

A DWI applies when a driver’s BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, and it is considered a misdemeanor crime. A conviction for DWI carries a one-year jail sentence and fines between $500 and $1,000 along with a six-month revocation of your driver’s license.

If your BAC exceeds 0.18 percent, you face an aggravated DWI, which is considered a felony that can result in up to one year in jail and fines between $1,000 to $2,500.

It is also important to note that New York has a no tolerance policy towards underage drinking. That means an underage driver can be charged with DWAI if they have a blood alcohol concentration of just 0.02 percent.

DWI and DWAI charges also apply to individuals who are driving under the influence of drugs whether they are illegal or prescribed by a doctor. The same penalties apply, but your defense best will require a different approach, and you may face additional criminal charges for paraphernalia or drug possession.

New York DWI and Immigration Status

New York City is home to approximately 8.50 million people, and a large percentage of the city’s population was born in a different country and eventually immigrated to the U.S.  As of 2014, there were over 4 million foreign-born nationals in the city, according to Office of The New York State Comptroller. But many immigrants don’t know what a DWI or DWAI charge means for their status. Immigrants who are facing an aggravated DWI, regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented, could be deported if they are convicted. Immigrants need to speak with an immigration attorney to see how their charges affect their status.

What Can a DWI Lawyer in New York City Do for Me?

One of the most immediate consequences of a DWI in New York is a suspension of your driver’s license. If you act quickly and retain a lawyer, you may be able to get limited driving privileges if you qualify for the Impaired Driver Program (IDP) and are willing to abide by the rules of the program. For more about IDP, programs visit the New York Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Below are some locations for IDP programs in Bronx County, New York County, Kings County, Richmond County, and Queens County.

Visions Human Development Co., LLC

1038-50 Ocean Ave Ste A5

Brooklyn, NY 11226-7407

Phone Number: (866) 899-4086


First Steps Urban Outreach, Inc.

465 E. Tremont Ave.

Bronx, NY 10457

Phone Number: (347) 270-9623


Jubilee Counseling Center

207-12 Northern Blvd 2nd

Bayside, NY 11361

Phone Number: (718) 225-5530

In addition to helping you keep your license, a DUI lawyer in New York City can help you build a defense that will help you avoid conviction. We have a knowledgeable legal team in the Big Apple ready to explain your charges and discuss the best defense strategy for you. Don’t put off getting legal advice, call and set up a consultation with an attorney today.