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The escalating penalty rules for New York DWI charges

On Behalf of | Aug 18, 2023 | DWI

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges are a top reason for people’s arrest and prosecution in New York. Those who cause crashes or who fail breath tests during traffic stops often face prosecution and penalties ranging from incarceration and fines to license suspension.

There is not one set penalty for a New York DWI conviction. Instead, there are escalating penalties that may come into play based on the ins and outs of a defendant’s case. For example, two separate factors explored below may trigger worse (than “usual”) charges and more serious criminal consequences for those accused of a DWI in New York.

What causes escalating penalties?

The first factor that might lead to escalating DWI consequences is someone’s repeat arrest for impaired driving infractions. A first DWI conviction can lead to between $500 and $1,000 in fines, six months without a driver’s license and up to a year in jail. A second DWI within 10 years of the first will be a felony offense, and the penalties will be much higher. Someone may spend up to four years in state custody and have their license revoked for at least a year. The fine they pay will increase to between $1,000 and $5,000. A third DWI in a 10-year period could lead to up to seven years in jail and $10,000 in fines.

The level of impairment detected by testing can also trigger escalating penalties. When someone has a very high blood alcohol concentration, (BAC), the state can impose enhanced charges and penalties against that driver. Those with a BAC of 0.18% or more will face aggravated DWI charges. A first offense could lead to up to $2,500 in fines, a year in jail and a year without a driver’s license. A second aggravated DWI within 10 years could lead to 18 months without a license and four years in prison, while a third could lead to up to seven years in jail and $10,000 in fines.

The risk of worsening penalties makes presenting a defense worthwhile

The possibility of increasing consequences with each subsequent arrest and the severity of the penalties possible when someone’s BAC is particularly high are both very good reasons for someone to fight pending drunk driving charges in New York.

Motorists who recognize how their consequences may worsen based on certain elements of their case may have more motivation to fight their pending charges. Learning more about New York’s DWI statutes with the assistance of an experienced attorney could benefit those who have been arrested on allegations of impaired driving.