DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired. This is a criminal offense that may result in large fines, jail time and suspension of a driver’s license. It differs from a DUI in that the driver has consumed alcohol or drugs to the extent that he or she is not able to exercise clear judgment. The driver’s blood alcohol content may be less than the legal limit of .08, but he or she may still be driving unsafely.
Arrest for DWAI typically begins with a failed roadside sobriety test after you are seen driving erratically. The arresting officer may ask that you stand on one foot or walk in a straight line. You will be handcuffed and taken to jail as your car is towed and impounded.
Once you are arrested, you will be asked to take a BAC test. In operating a vehicle, you are giving consent to chemical testing of your breath, blood or urine for blood. If you refuse, you may be required to outfit your car with an ignition interlock device for up to two years.
A first offense DWAI offers several administrative penalties. Among these is a three month suspension of the driver’s license. Additionally, the driver’s license will have up to 12 points added to it. Completion of a treatment program for substance abuse allows for reinstatement of the license. Some drivers are also required to use ignition interlock devices, which check a driver’s BAC, when they drive.
Additionally, drivers with first offense DWAI convictions are typically required to spend at least two days and up to 180 days in jail. Drivers are also subjected to fines up to $500.
Harsher penalties may be imposed upon those who involved a child in the intoxicated driving, who were driving without licenses or who caused serious injury or death from behind the wheel.
Is it a DUI or DWAI?
The main difference between a DUI and a DWAI is the blood alcohol content. A BAC above .05 but below .08 is likely to lead to a DWAI charge. A BAC above .08 leads to a DUI.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
The financial burden of a DWAI — even a first offense — is nothing to turn your nose at. If you are found guilty, you may miss work and spend time in jail. Fortunately, legal counsel may help to ensure that this does not happen.
It is always wise to hire a lawyer as soon as you have been arrested and charged with a crime. Your defense attorney will fight for you in court, ensuring that your rights have not been violated. In many situations, cases are thrown out simply because the rights of the defendant were not respected.
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