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Facing a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) charge in Buffalo, New York, can be a daunting experience. The repercussions of a DWAI conviction can significantly impact your life, including hefty fines, loss of driving privileges, and even potential jail time. Having an experienced and knowledgeable Buffalo DWAI lawyer by your side is essential. Trbovich Law Firm offers experienced legal representation, ensuring that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

What Constitutes a DWAI in New York?

Buffalo DWAI Lawyer

In New York, Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) is a charge that is distinct from DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). DWAI generally implies a lower level of impairment and is primarily based on the judgment that a driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired to any extent by the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.


For alcohol-related impairments, DWAI is defined as operating a motor vehicle while one's ability to do so is impaired by alcohol. This is typically evidenced by a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) between 0.05% and 0.07%, which is lower than the 0.08% threshold for a DWI charge. However, it is possible to be charged with DWAI on the basis of observed impairment even if the BAC is below 0.05%.


Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (DWAI-Drug) involves operating a vehicle while impaired by any drug that is not legally prescribed. This includes both illegal substances and legal medications that impair driving abilities. Unlike DWAI-Alcohol, there is no specific threshold for drug levels; the charge is based solely on observed impairment and the opinion of law enforcement.


DWAI-Combination pertains to impairment due to a combination of alcohol and drugs. This charge recognizes that the combined effects of drugs and alcohol can create a significant impairment, even if the individual amounts of each might not independently lead to impairment.

Key Differences from DWI

  • Legal Standard: DWAI charges hinge more on the observed impairment of driving abilities rather than meeting a specific chemical test benchmark.
  • Severity of Penalties: Generally, DWAI carries lighter penalties compared to DWI. For first-time offenders, DWAI is considered a traffic infraction, whereas DWI is typically treated as a criminal misdemeanor.
  • Consequences: Penalties for DWAI may include fines, suspension of driving privileges, and mandatory enrollment in driver education programs. However, the consequences tend to escalate with repeated offenses or if the incident involved accidents or injuries.

It's crucial for anyone charged with DWAI in New York to seek legal counsel due to the complexities of these charges and the potential impact on one's legal record and driving privileges.

How a Buffalo DWAI Lawyer Can Help

Buffalo DWAI Lawyer

At Trbovich Law Firm, we understand the complexities and challenges of facing a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) charge in Buffalo, NY. Here's how our experienced DWAI lawyers can assist you:

Case Evaluation

Our attorneys begin by thoroughly evaluating your case, examining the details of your arrest and the evidence against you. We review police reports, breathalyzer results, and other relevant information to identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution's case and develop effective defense strategies.

Legal Guidance

Navigating the intricacies of New York’s DWAI laws can be overwhelming. Our lawyers provide clear, comprehensive guidance on your case's legal processes and potential outcomes. We ensure you understand your rights and options, empowering you to make informed decisions.

Negotiation and Plea Deals

Many DWAI cases are resolved through negotiations with prosecutors. Our seasoned attorneys are skilled in negotiating favorable plea bargains, which may involve reducing the charges or penalties you face. We strive to secure outcomes that minimize the impact on your life and future.

Court Representation

Should your case proceed to trial, our lawyers will defend you vigorously in court. We present a strong defense, challenge prosecution witnesses, and argue effectively for your rights, aiming for the best possible resolution, whether that’s an acquittal, case dismissal, or reduced penalties.

License and Administrative Issues

DWAI charges often have administrative consequences, such as driver's license suspension. We represent you in DMV hearings, advocating for your driving privileges and working towards favorable outcomes, such as conditional licenses that allow you to drive under specific circumstances.

Comprehensive Support

Dealing with a DWAI charge can be stressful. Our team offers both legal and emotional support throughout the process, providing regular updates and being available to answer your questions. We handle all aspects of your case, allowing you to focus on your personal and professional life.

Future Legal Prevention

Beyond the immediate defense, we also offer advice on avoiding future legal issues. Whether it’s counseling on safe driving practices or understanding the long-term effects of your DWAI on your record, we are here to help.

Choosing Trbovich Law Firm means securing a partner who will advocate fiercely for your rights and work tirelessly towards the best outcome in your DWAI case. Contact us today for a consultation and take the first step towards legal representation.

Consequences of a DWAI in New York

The consequences of a Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) conviction in New York vary depending on the specific charge—whether it's DWAI by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Here’s an overview of the typical penalties and implications associated with each type:

1. DWAI-Alcohol

  • First Offense: Considered a traffic infraction, not a criminal offense. Penalties can include a fine of $300 to $500, up to 15 days in jail, and a 90-day driver's license suspension.
  • Second Offense (within 5 years): Still a traffic infraction. The penalties increase to a fine of $500 to $750, up to 30 days in jail, and a 6-month driver's license suspension.
  • Third Offense (within 10 years): This is also a traffic infraction, with fines ranging from $750 to $1,500, up to 180 days in jail, and a 6-month driver's license suspension.

2. DWAI-Drugs

  • First Offense: Treated as a misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of $500 to $1,000, up to 1 year in jail, and a minimum 6-month driver's license suspension.
  • Subsequent Offenses: Penalties escalate with potential for increased fines, longer jail time, and longer periods of license suspension, potentially including permanent revocation.

3. DWAI-Combination

  • First Offense: Also considered a misdemeanor. Involves penalties similar to DWAI-Drugs, including fines, potential jail time, and license suspension.
  • Subsequent Offenses: As with DWAI-Drugs, penalties increase with each offense.

Additional Consequences

  • Insurance Increases: A DWAI conviction can lead to significantly higher auto insurance premiums or even cancellation of your policy.
  • Criminal Record: While DWAI-Alcohol is usually an infraction, DWAI-Drugs and DWAI-Combination are criminal offenses and will appear on your criminal record, which can affect future employment opportunities, professional licensing, and travel to some countries.
  • Impact on Employment: Some jobs, particularly those involving driving, may be jeopardized by a DWAI conviction.
  • Educational Consequences: Students may face disciplinary actions from their educational institutions, including suspension or expulsion.
  • Immigration Issues: Non-citizens could face immigration consequences such as deportation or ineligibility for naturalization.

Long-Term Implications

Even after serving the immediate penalties, a DWAI can have lasting impacts on your life, affecting your ability to drive, your financial situation, and your professional and personal opportunities. This highlights the importance of obtaining competent legal representation if you are facing a DWAI charge in New York.

What To Do If You Have Been Charged With a DWAI in Buffalo

Being charged with a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) in Buffalo, NY, can be a stressful experience with serious consequences. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do if you find yourself in this situation:

Stay Calm and Compliant

During the arrest, it’s crucial to stay calm and avoid confrontation. Follow the instructions given by the police officer. While you should comply with lawful requests, remember that you have the right to remain silent beyond providing your basic identification information. Avoid admitting guilt or making statements that could be used against you in court.

Understand Your Rights

You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests and portable breath tests in New York, but be aware that refusal can lead to automatic license suspension and other penalties under the implied consent law. However, once arrested, refusing a chemical test at the station can have more severe consequences.

Contact a DWAI Lawyer Immediately

Contact a criminal defense lawyer with experience in DWAI cases as soon as possible. An experienced Buffalo DWAI lawyer can provide critical advice early on and protect your rights throughout the legal process. They can also handle communications with law enforcement and prosecutors on your behalf.

Document Everything

Write down everything you remember about the circumstances leading to, during, and after your arrest. Include details such as what you consumed, the timeline of events, the behavior of the police, any statements you made, and any tests you underwent. This information can be crucial for your defense.

Request a DMV Hearing

In New York, if you’re at risk of license suspension following a DWAI charge, you have the right to request a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This must typically be done within 10 days of your arrest. A lawyer can assist you in preparing for and representing you at this hearing.

Follow Legal Advice and Court Orders

Adhere strictly to your criminal defense attorney's legal advice and comply with court orders. Attend all required court appearances, and ensure you meet any bail conditions imposed.

Consider Treatment Programs

If your DWAI charge involves substance abuse, consider voluntarily enrolling in alcohol or drug treatment programs. Not only can this be an important step in addressing any underlying issues, but it may also be looked upon favorably by the court.

Prepare for Your Defense

Work closely with your lawyer to prepare your defense. This may involve gathering evidence, lining up witnesses, or preparing to testify in your defense. Your lawyer will explore all options, from challenging the legality of a traffic stop or the accuracy of a breathalyzer test to negotiating plea deals.

Stay Informed and Engaged

Stay informed about the legal process and actively engage with your defense strategy. Understanding the proceedings will help you make informed decisions and contribute effectively to your defense.

Facing a DWAI charge can be daunting, but with the right steps and a skilled attorney, you can manage the situation effectively. Protecting your rights and working towards the best possible outcome in your case is paramount.

Ready to Defend Your Rights? Contact Trbovich Law Firm Today!

If you've been charged with a DWAI in Buffalo, NY, don't wait to secure the representation you need. At Trbovich Law Firm, we're dedicated to providing aggressive legal defense and personalized support to help you navigate this challenging time. Call us today for a free consultation, and let us help you protect your rights and your future.

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