The Difference Between a Aggravated DWI and Regular DWI

Finding yourself on the defending end of a DWI charge can be an expensive, time-consuming hassle, but it can easily be prevented simply by educating yourself about the laws you are up against. New York state law includes three levels of DWI charges, including the most serious and most complex charge – aggravated DWI.

Understanding how authorities determine which charges to apply is crucial. The clearest difference is based on the driver’s BAC, but as with all legal charges there are a number of factors to consider, including prior offenses. The breakdown for the levels of these charges is as follows:

  • Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI). This charge covers any drivers with a BAC between .05-.07. A first or second offense is deemed a traffic infraction, while a third offense will lead to a misdemeanor. Fines for the DWAI charge range from $300-$1500, and potential jail sentences are between 15-180 days.
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher will face this charge, as will those who are driving while impaired by a drug (DWAI-Drug) or those under the influence of multiple substances (DWAI-Combination). First offenders in this category will receive a misdemeanor charge, while repeat offenders qualify for as high as a class D felony. Fines can be anywhere from $500-$10,000, and jail sentences could be up to seven years.
  • Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (AGG-DWI). The most serious offense, this charge is applied to drivers who have a BAC of .18 and higher. As with the DWI charge, first offenders will face a misdemeanor charge and can escape with fines starting at $1000. Second and third offenders could find themselves with a class E or D felony and penalties as high as $10,000. Jail sentences can again be up to seven years.

While at first glance it may appear that the difference between the DWI and aggravated DWI is slight, an aggravated DWI can prove much more problematic in the long run. Repeat offenders with a prior aggravated DWI conviction can be forced to implement an ignition interlock system and are much more likely to face inflated fines and lengthier license suspensions.

Understanding the subtle differences in these laws can be a difficult undertaking. If you find yourself faced with an aggravated DWI or one of its lesser counterparts, you should get in touch with a New York DWI lawyer right away.