When a Buffalo driver is arrested for Driving While Intoxicated, the arresting officer will provide the driver with a document called a Uniform Traffic Ticket which sets forth basic information such as the offense allegedly committed, the time and location of the alleged offense, the name and address of the court where the charge will be heard, and the scheduled court date.
Any New York driver who has seen a speeding ticket is familiar with this form.
Drivers arrested for DWI, however, are often confused because they are issued two Uniform Traffic Tickets, both of which appear to charge the driver with DWI.
These tickets are actually for two separate charges. Nearly all drivers accused of DWI will be issued a ticket for the offense of common law Driving While Intoxicated.
Drivers who submit to a breath or blood test and are found to have a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater will also be charged with a separate offense called Driving While Intoxicated per se.
Both of the offenses require proof that a motor vehicle was operated on a public highway while under the influence of alcohol.
The difference is that common law Driving While Intoxicated requires proof that alcohol rendered the driver incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle.
This is usually proven through evidence of bad driving or poor performance on field sobriety tests.
In contrast, Driving While Intoxicated per se only requires proof that the driver’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit of .08%.
Because the impact of the alcohol on the person’s ability to drive is not relevant to this charge, he or she can appear completely sober but still be found guilty.
Both of these charges are misdemeanors and carry the same penalties.
It is entirely possible to be convicted of one and acquitted of the other.
If you have been arrested for DWI and need legal help, please feel free to call us at 716-542-5444.