DUI in New York

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in the state of New York.  An arrest for DWI, sometimes called DUI, in New York will trigger two cases, a DWI criminal court case that applies to being arrested for impaired driving and an administrative Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) case.  The DMV case empowers the state of New York to attempt to suspend your driving privileges if your abilities were impaired by alcohol while you were behind the wheel of a vehicle when arrested.

Possible drunk driving offenses in New York include the following:

  • Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving while impaired by the use of alcohol or use of drugs (DWAI/DWAI drug offenses)
  • If a commercial driver, driving with a BAC of .04 or greater
  • If under the age of 21, driving with a BAC of .02 or greater

New York DWI Penalties


Court Fines Potential Jail Time License Suspension
1st Conviction $500 to $1,000 Up to 1 Year 6 Months
2nd Conviction $1,000-5,000 10 days - 7 years Minimum of 1 Year
3rd Conviction $2,000-10,000 Up to 7 years Minimum of 1 Year

Consequences and Driving Repercussions of DWI Conviction

The state of New York considers two theories for DWI charges.  Under the “common-law” theory, a driver can be convicted based on evidence of impaired driving.  The evidence can include officer testimony regarding driving patterns, failed field sobriety tests, and chemical tests.  The “common-law” theory does not need to take  BAC results into account in order to convict.  The second theory is the “per se” law which is based solely upon body chemistry, i.e. a BAC level of 0.08 per cent or higher.  It does not need to take into account any other evidence of physical impairment.  

If you need legal assistance with a DUI charge, consult with a DUI Lawyer near you to discuss the details of your case. The content of this page is for informational purposes only.

The degree of punishment in New York for DWI depends on whether the conviction is deemed a misdemeanor or a felony.  Misdemeanors carry jail time of one year or less and fines, whereas felonies carry jail time of one year or more in addition to higher monetary penalties.  Typically, a first-time DWI offense (the standard drunk driving offense) is considered a misdemeanor. Any additional conviction within a 10-year period after a first offense becomes a felony.

DWI arrests in New York will result in a variety of consequences.  The sentence handed down by the courts will depend on the severity of the charge and whether or not there are aggravating and/or mitigating factors accompanying the arrest and conviction.  New York DWI criminal penalties are as follows:

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol (DWAI) - This is the least serious out of the possible DWI offenses and will not leave the driver with a criminal record.  It is considered to be non-criminal and a traffic infraction.  A first conviction can carry fines of between $300-$500, maximum 15 days of jail time, and license suspension for 90 days.  A second conviction can bring up to 30 days of jail time, up to $750 in fines, and license revocation of 6 months.
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or DWAI Drug offense - This is the standard New York drunk driving offense.  A first offense is considered a misdemeanor and can carry consequences of up to 1 year in jail, fines up to $1,000, and license revocation of 6 months.  A second (or greater) offense within 10 years is considered a felony and will carry harsher penalties.
  • DWI/DWAI Drug felony offense - If a person already has a misdemeanor conviction, the next conviction is then considered a “Class E” felony.  Fines can range from $1,000 to $5,000 and carry anywhere from six months to four years incarceration in a state prison.  There will be a minimum of 1 year license revocation.

If you are facing a possible DWI conviction, remember that a reputable DWI Attorney can help mitigate the damage and cost of a DWI arrest.

Chemical Testing and Implied Consent Laws

Under New York state law, any licensed person operating a motor vehicle automatically gives his or her consent to an approved test (blood, breath, urine, or saliva) for the purpose of showing intoxication.  Unlike many other states, New York motorists are given the right to consult with a DWI attorney prior to refusing or taking any chemical tests.  Although you have this right, the police do not have to wait for the attorney to show up.  Test refusal can result in up to 1 year license revocation and fines and can be admissable as evidence in court as long as it can be proven that the driver in question was given appropriate advisement.

In order for a chemical test to be deemed valid and admissible in court as evidence, it must be administered by a person qualified by the Department of Health in accordance to set standards within 2 hours of arrest.  Blood tests must be carried out by a doctor, nurse, doctor's assistant, or other medical personnel under the supervision of a doctor.  In addition, a driver accused of a DUI offense has the right to request a second, independent, chemical test.

The content of this page is for informational purposes only. If you need legal assistance with a DUI charge, consult with a DUI Lawyer near you to discuss the details of your case.
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