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What You Need to Know About New York’s DWI Laws and Penalties

Posted in New York Law on May 14, 2021

What You Need to Know About New York's DWI Laws and Penalties

Drunk driving is a serious offense in New York. If convicted of DWI (driving while intoxicated), you can face numerous penalties, including jail time and substantial fines. However, criminal penalties are not the only penalties you need to worry about.

If you cause a drunk driving accident, injury victims may sue you for damages caused by the DUI accident. Before you get behind the wheel of a car after drinking, there are some things you should know about alcohol offenses in New York.

Common DWI Charges and Penalties in New York

Common alcohol offenses in New York include, but are not limited to:

Driving While Intoxicated or DWI

The legal limit for DWI in New York is a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher. For commercial truck drivers, the legal limit is a BAC of .04% or higher. If your BAC exceeds these limits, the charge is Driving While Intoxicated.

A first DWI offense carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. The state revokes your driver’s license for at least six months.

The second DWI within ten years is a Class E Felony. It carries a fine of up to $5,000 and up to four years in prison. The state revokes your driver’s license for at least one year.

The third DWI within ten years is a Class D Felony. The maximum penalties increase to $10,000 and up to seven years in prison. The state revokes your driver’s license for at least one year.

Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated or AGG DWI

AGG DWI is charged when a driver’s BAC is .18% or higher. A conviction of AGG DWI carries a fine of $1,000 to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. The state also revokes your driver’s license for at least one year.

If you receive a second AGG DWI within ten years, the charge is a Class E Felony. The maximum fine increases to $5,000. You can serve up to four years in prison, and the state revokes your driver’s license for at least 18 months.

A third AGG DWI within ten years is a Class D Felony. The fine increases to a maximum of $10,000 with up to seven years in jail. The state revokes your driver’s license for at least 18 months.

Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol or DWAI Alcohol

You can be charged with this lesser drunk driving offense if your BAC is .05% but less than .07%.

The penalties for a DWAI are less than DWI. For a first offense, the maximum fine is $500 with up to 15 days in jail. The state suspends your driver’s license for 90 days.

A second DWAI within five years increases the jail time to 30 days with a fine up to $750. The state revokes your driver’s license for at least six months.

A third DWAI within ten years increases the maximum fine up to $1,500 with up to 180 days in jail. The state revokes your driver’s license for at least six months.

Chemical Test Refusal

Drivers who refuse to take a chemical test, such as a blood, breath, or urine test, can be charged with chemical test refusal.

This charge carries a civil penalty of $500 ($550 for commercial drivers). There is no jail time, but your driver’s license is revoked for at least one year (18 months for commercial drivers). Subsequent offenses increase the fine and suspension.

Zero Tolerance Law

New York has a Zero Tolerance Law for underage drinking and driving. A driver under the age of 21 years with a BAC of .02 to .07 violates this law.

The penalties for breaking the Zero Tolerance Law include civil penalties of $125 and an additional $100 to terminate the suspension. There is no jail time, but your driver’s license is suspended for at least six months. Subsequent offenses increase the fines and suspension.

There could also be additional penalties for alcohol-related driving offenses depending on the circumstances and facts of the case. An offender may face other consequences, such as higher car insurance rates.

Lawsuits Related to DUI Accidents in New York

If you cause a drunk driving accident in New York, the victims may sue you for damages caused by the accident.

Damages in a DUI accident case include:

  • Medical bills and cost of treatment
  • Cost of personal care
  • Loss of income and benefits, including compensation for decreases in earning capacity
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Physical pain and suffering

Your car insurance may cover some of the damages caused by a DUI crash, but only up to your policy limits. If the victims receive a personal judgment against you, you are liable for payment of the judgment. The victims could recover payment through several collection tools, including wage garnishment.

Drinking and driving in New York could cost you much more than you imagined.

To learn more, call one of our convenient locations nearest you for assistance.

New York City law office at (212) 564-2800,
Brooklyn law office at (718) 802-1600.

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