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What Happens if I Get a DWI in Another State?

A DWI is a serious criminal matter with heavy consequences, and perhaps even heavier consequences if you get a DWI while visiting another state. If you’re facing this charge, please read on to learn more about DWIs and get in contact with a New City DWI defense attorney who will battle hard to get your charges dismissed.

Terminology: DWI versus DUI versus DWAI

Across the United States, there are several names for the crime of driving after having ingested so much of a mind-altering substance that you become a danger to others on the roadway. People are often charged with this crime after a police officer has pulled them over and given them a breathalyzer test. However, the conviction may not hold if the defendant isn’t given a follow-up breath, urine, or blood test.

In New York, a DUI is the broad term for the crime described above. It stands for driving under the influence, and it is used when a driver takes any mind-altering substance, whether that be alcohol, controlled substances, or prescription medications.

On the other hand, when New York uses DWI for driving while intoxicated, the state is typically referring to alcohol. The blood alcohol content (BAC) of a driver in New York cannot be higher than 0.08%. This is known as the legal limit for driving while intoxicated.

New York also sometimes uses DWAI or driving while ability impaired. This charge means that the person’s BAC is below the legal limit, but authorities nevertheless found the driver impaired to some extent. Usually, DWAIs aren’t as serious as DWIs, though this depends on the circumstances. When the person has taken both drugs and alcohol to end up very impaired, and/or when a person kills or injures another because of their impairment, DWAIs may be punished more strictly than DWIs.

What Are the Penalties for Getting a DWI in Another State?

The IDLC, or Interstate Driver’s License Compact, is an agreement among 45 states in the United States. Only Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are outside the IDLC. Under the IDLC, member states agree to share information among themselves about driving arrests and convictions. This includes DWIs.

If your DWI takes place in a member state, you will likely have consequences both in the state where the incident occurred and in your home state. Often, as in New York, the court in your home state will need to determine if your out-of-state conviction is “substantially similar” to New York laws.

Consequences you might face include license suspension and revocation in your home state. In the state where the incident occurred, you may encounter suspension of driving privileges and you may be told to appear in court, though if your offense is a misdemeanor, this might be waived. Felony offenses are more likely to require a court appearance.

If your DWI takes place in a non-member state, you will still have to face charges in that state, but there is a chance the state will not share that information with your home state.

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