Drunk Driving and New York State Law: Charges and Penalties

Penalties for a DWI in New York are harsh, but defenses are available.

If an enforcement officer pulls you over under suspicion of drunk driving, the officer may require a field sobriety test. This could include reciting the alphabet, walking a straight line or submitting to a breath-screening with an Alco-Sensor device. If you fail, you may be asked to submit to a chemical test of your breath by what is popularly called a Breathalyzer test. It is important for those who are stopped to be aware of the fact that defenses are available if the stop leads to drunk driving charges. These defenses should be considered, since the penalties tied to a conviction are harsh.

Penalties in New York for DUI and DWI convictions

Getting a driving while intoxicated (DWI) ticket in New York (referred to in some states as driving under the influence (DUI)) is serious. If you are convicted, harsh penalties can apply. These penalties can include:

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol. This charge generally results where the police believe there is evidence of impairment, but the blood alcohol content is less than 0.08 percent, often between 0.05 and 0.07 percent. In these cases, penalties for a first offense can include a fine of $300 to $500 and potential imprisonment of 15 days. A second conviction within five years leads to a fine of $500 to $750 and imprisonment up to 30 days. A third within ten years results in a fine of $750 to $1500 and up to 180 days' imprisonment.
  • Driving while intoxicated. This charge is for driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, or when the person is incapable to a "substantial extent" of operating reasonably and safely due to having consumed alcohol. A conviction for DWI comes with a monetary penalty of $500 to $1,000 and up to one year imprisonment. A second conviction within ten years is a felony and comes with a monetary penalty ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and up to four years' imprisonment. A third results in a fine of $2,000 to $10,000 and up to seven years' imprisonment.
  • Aggravated driving while intoxicated. This charge accompanies a BAC of 0.18 and higher. It can come with a monetary penalty ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 and up to one year imprisonment. A second offense and third offense come with the same penalties as similar DWI convictions.

These are just a few of the penalties that apply. Additional penalties can include suspension or revocation of a driver's license and installation of an ignition interlock system. Penalties can also increase in severity depending on the details of the charges.

Legal counsel can help

Those who face these charges have a variety of defenses available. These defenses include whether or not the stop was legal and whether or not proper procedures were followed when administering the Breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. An experienced New York DWI lawyer can review the details of your case and help discuss your options.

Keywords: criminal defense DWI