What Is The Difference Between “Intoxication” and “Impairment”?

Buffalo DWI lawyers generally defend charges that involve a driver operating a motor vehicle while either intoxicated or impaired.

For example, a driver may be charged with Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol.

Drug related driving offenses, such as Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs, all require proof of impairment.

The language in the statute implies that intoxication is more serious than impairment by making Driving While Intoxicated a more serious charge than Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol.

However, the statute does not provide any definition of either term.

As a result, it has been left to the courts of New York State to determine what the difference is between the two and when someone crosses of the line between impairment and intoxication.

While there is no one set definition of either term, New York’s highest court has defined intoxication as being incapable of employing the physical and mental abilities which a person is expected to possess in order to operate a vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver.

It defined impairment as having actually impaired, to any extent, the physical and mental abilities which a driver is expected to possess in order to operate a vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver.

Even with this guidance, whether a driver was actually incapable of operating a vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver versus only having impaired ability to operate is, in many cases, a very subjective determination that an experienced criminal defense lawyer will use when defending against a DWI charge.

If you have been arrested for DWI and need legal help, please feel free to call us at (716) 542-5444 for a consultation regarding your case.

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