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Many of the "man on the street" interviews we see on television feature people who are ignorant of subjects ranging from who is the current vice president of the country to who won the Civil War, but one question that probably anyone can answer is, "What is the minimum blood alcohol content level to be charged with drunk driving?"

What some may not realize, though, is that drinking alcohol, but staying below the 0.08 percent BAC threshold may not save a person from being pulled over and charged with an alcohol-related violation of the law in New York.

In addition to its regular drunk driving laws, New York also has laws aimed at drivers who have been drinking enough to make them a potential danger on the road even though they may only test at a level of 0.05 up to 0.07 percent on a breath or blood alcohol test. These laws come under the category of "driving while ability impaired."

A common way to become ensnared by these laws is to drive in such a way that a police officer decides to pull you over. If the officer suspects you of drunk driving and administers a test to measure your BAC level you can be charged if you register within the impaired range.

 There are three ways that you can be charged:

  • DWAI/Alcohol: If alcohol is the only drug in your system
  • DWAI/Drug: If a single drug other than alcohol was involved
  • DWAI/Combination: If alcohol and at least one other drug are present

As far as potential penalties are concerned, DWAI/Alcohol is the least serious with a fine of up to $500, up to 15 days in jail and a maximum 90-day license suspension.

DWAI/Drug doubles the maximum fine and the maximum suspension and can include up to a one-year jail sentence. DWAI/Combination carries the same fines and penalties as DWAI/Drug, but instead of a suspension, your license is revoked for not less than six months.

The penalties above are for first-time violations. Subsequent violations result in escalating consequences. This post is offered for informational purposes only and should not be used or relied upon as legal advice. An attorney is your best resource for legal advice.

The best way to avoid an alcohol or drug-related driving charge is to avoid getting behind the wheel when you are under the influence of anything. If you have been charged for any variant of DWAI, an experienced New York traffic attorney can help you to present the best defense possible.

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