DWI Laws and Penalties in the State of New York

Drunk driving accidents are an epidemic in the state of New York. Did you know that according to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 33% of all fatalities are due to drunk drivers? That shocking statistic should be enough to curb most people of the dangerous habit, but it still happens. People drink, and when they are drunk, their judgment is clouded. That’s when bad decisions are made. That’s when they get behind the wheel. That’s how tragedy happens.

Fortunately, there are several laws set up to appropriately punish the people who need more than a casual reminder that driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can be a fatal mistake. If common sense or defensive driving school didn’t work for you, here is what you can expect to happen.



DWI Crimes

The New York DUI laws set up to combat drunk driving are broken out into several different categories. They are defined as:

  • DWI (driving while intoxicated): If you have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, you can be charged with DWI.
  • DWAI (driving while ability impaired): This is a grade down from a full DWI charge, and reserved for people with a BAC of between .05% and .07%, or if you otherwise show you are impaired.
  • DWAI/drugs: This portion of the law accounts for non-alcoholic substances that alter and impair your ability to drive. Street drugs, prescriptions, and even some over-the-counter drugs can fall into this category.
  • Chemical test refusal: According to New York DWI laws you have the right to refuse a blood, breath, or urine test that would determine your BAC, but if you refuse and are ultimately convicted for DWI, you could lose your license and be fined a $500 civil penalty.
  • Zero tolerance law: This is reserved for anyone under the age of 21 who is caught driving with a BAC of .02% or higher.

New York State DWI Laws and Penalties

New York has established severe penalties for DUI. The reason for the severity is not only to punish people who have been arrested for driving drunk, but to set an example to those who haven’t yet. That way, if they are ever in a position where they are considering drunk driving, they will think better of it. And the penalties become even more severe for a second- and third-time offenders:



New York York DUI Laws (1st offense)

  • $500 – $1,000 fine
  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Minimum 6-month license suspension

New York DUI Laws (2nd offense within 10 years)

  • $500 – $1,000 fine
  • Up to 4 years in jail
  • Minimum 1-year license suspension

New York DUI Laws (3rd offense within 10 years)

  • $2,000 – $10,000 fine
  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • Minimum 1-year license suspension

Of course, punishments for breaking New York DWI laws exist on top of a fairly stringent point system. If you accrue 11 points in an 18-month period, your New York drivers license will be suspended or revoked. Not only that, convicted drunk drivers still have to deal with any conviction surcharges and crime victim’s assistance fees. The DMV imposes fines of its own as well, as part of New York’s driver responsibility program–an annual $250 for three years, if you’d like to maintain your driving privileges.

How to Avoid Getting a DWI

The best advice for avoiding New York DWI laws is simple: don’t drive drunk. And when it comes to sobering up, the only thing that matters is time. Greasy food, coffee, cold showers, and every other “remedy” don’t really do anything for your sobriety.

If you feel you don’t have time to sober up, you still have many options in place of driving drunk:

  • Call a sober friend
  • Walk
  • Take a taxi
  • Call and reschedule whatever it is you’re going to be late for

Anything’s better than risking lives by getting behind the wheel when you’re sauced. Drunk driving puts you, and everyone else on the road, at risk. One bad decision could ruin lives. But on the other hand, a smart decision could save them.

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