While a first DWI will usually be charged as a misdemeanor, certain aggravating factors can boost the charge to a felony. If you have a child as a passenger, for example, DWI is a felony, and any second DWI charge within ten years of a prior DWI conviction will be a felony charge.
A DWI conviction also entails extra-legal consequences that you will not face if you are offered a plea agreement and you plead guilty to DWAI.
A DWI conviction will raise your auto insurance costs. If you drive for a living, a DWI conviction may force you to find other work, and a recent criminal conviction can make that difficult.
If you hold a professional license in the state of New York, a DWI conviction will put that license at risk for suspension or revocation.