What is Driving While Ability Impaired?

In the state of Connecticut, the operating under the influence charge is referred to as DUI - driving under the influence. However, in some other states, such as neighboring New York, there is another operating under the influence charge that you could potentially face. This is driving while ability impaired (DWAI). Learn more about it on this page.


Drinking and driving can constitute a few different types of driving violations – driving under the influence, driving while ability impaired, etc. Probably, the one that you are most familiar with is driving under the influence (DUI). This is a crime in the state of Connecticut, as well as other states in the United States. But, some states consider driving while ability impaired (DWAI) a crime. They have their own drinking and driving related crimes that you might not know too much about.

On this page, I will discuss driving while ability impaired (DWAI), a drinking and driving crime in some states. While Connecticut does not have a DWAI charge, some nearby states, such as New York, do. Here, you can learn some basic differences between DUI and driving while ability impaired.


You can face a DUI charge if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above .08% at the time that you operate a motor vehicle. The crime carries many different penalties that will change based on how many previous DUIs you have been convicted of. Common penalties include:

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  • Fine.
  • License suspension.
  • Participation in an alcohol education program or rehabilitation.
  • Community service.
  • Jail time. 
  • Probation. 

DUI is a drinking and driving charge that you might face in Connecticut. And while the countrywide level of intoxication is decided at .08% BAC, some states have their own rules. 


Driving while ability impaired differs from a DUI in how it gets defined and punished. DWAI is not a crime in Connecticut, but it is a crime in New York. You could face this charge if driving in New York or another state that considers driving while ability impaired a driving infraction.

You could face a DWAI charge if you are driving with a BAC of .05-.07. While this is not necessarily considered a crime, it is considered a traffic infraction. This means that it carries penalties. But, keep in mind that these penalties will likely be less serious than the penalties for a DUI. DWAI also carries penalties such as a fine, jail time, and license suspension. But, these are lower penalties than for a DUI. 

Driving in New York

DWAI is not prosecuted in Connecticut. Because of this, Connecticut drivers driving in New York do not face DWAI charges. Because Connecticut is a sister state of New York that does not have this crime, you don’t get charged in New York. 

If you have faced a DWAI charge in New York, contact our office. If you have a Connecticut license, we can help you get the charges dismissed. For more information, please contact our office.

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