How A DWAI Can Affect A Licensed Professional

Licensed professionals are vulnerable to distinct consequences for criminal offenses. Medicine, law, and accounting are just a few examples of career paths that rely heavily on certification and licensing. That which is given can be taken away – and driving under the influence of certain substances can potentially cause a professional to lose the right to work. To learn more about the specific consequences a licensed professional might face in this situation, consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in New York. The Law Office of Benjamin Greenwald can not only provide education on these matters, but also targeted defense strategies. Call 845-567-4820 to get started today. 

A variety of prescription drugs.

What Is A DWAI in New York?

DWAI stands for “Driving While Ability Impaired.” This is a criminal offense similar to DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), but with a few major differences. To understand these differences, it is important to review the various types of DWAI offenses in New York:

Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol

New York makes a distinction between “intoxication” and “impairment” by alcohol. While a driver might face a DWI charge with a BAC of 0.08 or more, they could face a DWAI charge with a BAC of between 0.05 and 0.07. This is a lesser charge compared to DWI, but there are still serious consequences to consider – including potential jail time, fines, and a mandatory 90-day driver’s license suspension. 

Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs

Drivers who become impaired by drugs also face DWAI charges. Authorities will not care whether these drugs are legal, illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter. As long as police officers believe that the driver is impaired, a DWAI charge is possible. The consequences of this offense are comparable to a DWI, with a maximum jail sentence of one year and a minimum six-month driver’s license suspension. 

Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs and Alcohol

Also known as a “DWAI Combination,” this offense involves impairment caused by both drugs and alcohol in any amount. The penalties for this offense are exactly the same as the penalties for DWAI by Drugs.

DWAI Penalties for Licensed Professionals in New York

DWAI penalties can affect licensed professionals in many ways. Basic consequences like incarceration and the loss of a driver’s license can easily impede careers. A jail term can put a professional career on pause. Lawyers may be unable to file important court documents while behind bars. Accountants may miss deadlines, causing their clients to incur tax penalties. A doctor may miss a life-saving surgery, putting a patient at risk. Losing the right to drive may complicate the morning commute, making each workday more difficult. However, there are also more subtle consequences to consider after a DWAI conviction.

The Reputational Effects of a DWAI

DWAI convictions go on public record. In other words, any New York resident can find out that a licensed professional has been convicted of driving offenses. This may raise questions about the professionalism, trustworthiness, and reliability of the professional. Many potential clients research licensed professionals before working with them, and a criminal record check is very easy in the modern era. A DWAI conviction could cause a licensed professional to lose business – and it might even end their career. This is especially problematic if the licensed professional relies on a public persona and a “clean” image. 

A DWAI May Be a Code of Conduct Breach

Various accreditation boards across numerous professions have strict codes of conduct. Some of these boards specifically identify DWAIs and similar offenses as violations of their codes of conduct. Other boards mandate disciplinary action for all criminal offenses. Professionals may need to self-report these offenses, and the consequences can be quite serious. Each specific licensing board may have its own way of dealing with these breaches of professional responsibility. 

Can a DWAI Cause Me to Lose My Professional License?

A DWAI can cause the loss of a professional license in some situations. After self-reporting the incident, a professional may be investigated by their licensing board – and the board may conclude that license revocation is the most appropriate response. Failure to disclose a DWAI conviction may also lead to the revocation of a professional license.

The New York State Education’s Office of the Professions Investigates DWAIs

The New York State Education’s Office of the Professions oversees all licensed professionals. Despite its name, this office does not only oversee educational professionals. Article 130, Subarticle 3 of its General Provisions lays out the process of investigating and punishing professional misconduct. In its definition of professional misconduct, the office specifically mentions being habitually drunk or dependent on drugs. 

The office also defines professional misconduct as being convicted of any crime under New York state law or federal law – including a DWAI offense. The office has the authority to investigate convictions, and they may also revoke professional licenses at the conclusion of proceedings. If professionals require treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, they may be forced to temporarily surrender their licenses under Article 130. This is an important point, as many DWAI defendants attempt to avoid jail by accepting drug treatment as an alternative sentencing program. 

Which Professionals May Be Affected by DWAIs?

Virtually any profession with a licensing board can be affected by a DWAI conviction. These include medical professionals, lawyers, real estate brokers, teachers, accountants, and law enforcement officials. Each of these professions may have their own licensing boards, policies, and penalties for code of conduct violations. To learn more about DWAI consequences for a specific career path, contact The Law Office of Benjamin Greenwald. 

Contact The Law Office of Benjamin Greenwald

The most straightforward way for licensed professionals to avoid these consequences is to secure an acquittal. If there is no DWAI conviction, a professional cannot face any penalties, license revocations, or reputational issues. Work with The Law Office of Benjamin Greenwald to execute a defense strategy tailored to each unique situation. When a professional career is on the line, it makes sense to work with experienced criminal defense lawyers in New York. Call 845-567-4820 to book a consultation today.