New York DWI Laws & Penalties

The state of New York hosts a large number of motor vehicle accident leading to fatalities due to drunk driving, therefore the law enforcement authorities tackle this issue heavily. That’s why fines are harsh and if you want to avoid them, the best strategy is not to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs. But, if this advice comes too late to you, here’s what you need to know about the New York DUI laws and penalties to better understand what may come next for you.

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What is a New York DUI Offense?

You are responsible for a New York DUI offense if you drive while intoxicated with alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. The state of New York has multiple offense classifications for DUI offenders. These include:

  • DWI (driving while intoxicated): If your BAC (blood alcohol concentration meets the legally set thresholds at 0.02% for drivers under 21 years of age, 0.04% for commercial drivers, and 0.08% for all other drivers
  • Aggravated DWI: BAC of at least 0.18% or having persons 15 years old or younger while driving intoxicated
  • Alcohol DWAI (driving while abilities impaired): if your BAC is between 0.05% and 0.07%, but your driving abilities have been impaired due to the consumption of alcohol
  • Drug DWAI: if your driving abilities have been impaired due to the use of drugs, including prescription drugs
  • Combination DWAI: when the use of both alcohol and drugs have impaired your driving abilities, no matter what your BAC is

You can’t avoid being tested for BAC. According to the implied consent law, the mere fact that you operate a vehicle means that you have agreed to be tested. Therefore, if you refuse it when a police officer requests so, you’ll still be punished with slightly harsher penalties.

Also, you should know that having an open container filled with alcohol while driving will get you charged with DUI in New York. It doesn’t matter whether you drink from it or not, as long as you have it in the car, you are responsible for DUI.

 What Are the Penalties for DUI in New York?

The penalties for a DUI offense in New York depend on the kind of offense you have committed, whether it was DWI, aggravated DWI, or DWAI, and how many subsequent DUI offenses you have committed in the past. The washout period in the state of New York is 10 years, which means that only the DWIs, Aggravated DWIs, and DWAIs committed in the last 10 years count.

New York DWI Penalties

The DWI Penalties in New York are as follows:

First New York DWI Offense

The first New York DWI offense is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  •  Fines of $500-$1000
  • Driving license suspension of at least 6 months
  • Possible vehicle impounding
  • Possible use of an ignition interlock device
  • Completing a Drinking Driver Program and paying the associated costs

Second New York DWI Offense

The second New York DWI offense within 10 years from the first one is a Class E felony punishable by:

  •  Up to 5 years in jail
  • Fines of $1000-$5000
  • Driving license suspension of at least 1 year
  • Possible vehicle impounding
  • Possible use of an ignition interlock device
  • Completing a Drinking Driver Program and paying the associated costs

Third New York DWI Offense

The third New York DWI offense is a Class D felony and leads to the following penalties:

  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • Fines of $2000-$10000
  • Driving license suspension of at least 1 year
  • Possible vehicle impounding
  • Possible use of an ignition interlock device
  • Completing a Drinking Driver Program and paying the associated costs

New York Aggravated DWI Penalties

If your BAC was 0.18% or over or you had a child 15 years old or younger while intoxicated with a BAC of at least 0.08%, your DWI is considered aggravated.

 First New York Aggravated DWI Offense

The first aggravated DWI offense in New York is a misdemeanor. Expect the following penalties:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fines of $1000-$25000
  •  Driving license suspension of at least 1 year
  • Possible vehicle impounding
  • Possible use of an ignition interlock device
  • Completing a Drinking Driver Program and paying the associated costs

Second New York Aggravated DWI Offense

The second aggravated DWI offense is a Class E felony and puts you under threat of these penalties:

  •  Up to 4 years in jail
  • Fines of $1000-$5000
  • Driving license suspension of at least 18 months
  • Possible use of an ignition interlock device
  • Completing a Drinking Driver Program and paying the associated costs

Third New York Aggravated DWI Offense

The third New York aggravated DWI offense is a Class D felony punishable by:

  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • Fines of $2000-$10000
  • Driving license suspension of at least 18 months
  • Possible vehicle impounding
  • Possible use of an ignition interlock device
  • Completing a Drinking Driver Program and paying the associated costs

New York DWAI Penalties

If your BAC is in the range between 0.05% and 0.07%, but your driving abilities are obviously impaired, the law prescribes the following penalties for you:

 First New York DWAI Offense

The first DWAI conviction is considered only a traffic infraction. It is punishable by:

  • Jail time of up to 15 days
  •  Fines between $300 and $500
  • Driving license suspension of at least 90 days

Second New York DWAI Offense

The second DWAI offense is a traffic infraction as well but leads to slightly harsher penalties, including:

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  •  Fines of $600-$700
  • Driving license suspension of at least 6 months

Third New York DWAI Offense

The third DWAI offense is a misdemeanor leading to:

  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • Fines of $750-$1500
  • Driving license suspension of at least 6 months

DUI Penalties for Drivers Under 21 Years of Age in New York

The state of New York does not tolerate young intoxicated drivers. The BAC limit set at 0.02% virtually means that you cannot have a drink and drive afterward. If you do so, you face:

For the first offense: driving license suspension of 1 year, $300 fine and $100 reinstatement fee
For the second offense: driving license suspension of 1 year, $750 fine and $100 reinstatement fee.

DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers in New York

Commercial drivers who drive while intoxicated in New York face severe penalties that could put conducting their trade under risk. In addition to the penalties imposed on all other drivers, their first DUI will lead to a suspension of the commercial driving license for one year. If they were driving hazardous materials, the suspension is 3 years.
Their second DUI within a 10-year period will cause permanent revocation of their commercial driving license. Keeping a clean driving record in the next 10 years, however, may lead to a lifting of the revocation.

DUI Penalties for School Bus Drivers in New York

New York DUI laws prescribe specific penalties for school bus drivers. They drive children, therefore they must be held accountable. That’s why the penalties for them are heavier compared to those for other drivers. In addition to the standard penalties, they may receive:

  • If he had a BAC between 0.08% and 0.18% and there was at least one student in the bus, he will be punished with a fine of $1000-$5000 and jail time of up to 4 years
  • If he had a BAC between of over 0.18% and there was at least one student in the bus, he will be punished with a fine of $2000-$10000 and jail time of up to 7 years

These penalties apply no matter how many DWI offenses the bus driver has committed in the past.

Taxi Cab Drivers in New York

New York taxi cab drivers are under threat of more severe penalties as well if driving while intoxicated. If their BAC is 0.18% or more, in addition to the standard penalties, they face jail time of up to 4 years and a fine between $1000 and $5000.

These penalties apply from the first DWI offense.

Chemical Test Refusal DUI Penalties in New York

The implied consent law doesn’t allow you to refuse a chemical test, such as breathalyzer, blood or urine test. If you refuse it, you’ll be punished anyway. You won’t go to jail, but you’ll lose the driving license for a longer period of time.
For the first offense: license revocation of 1 year, a fine of $500, and an assessment fee of $250 annually for the next 3 years
For the second offense: license revocation of 1 year, a fine of $750, and an assessment fee of $250 annually for the next 3 years

What is a Conditional License and How to Get One

A conditional driving license will let you drive for work, educational, health, or similar purposes. You can use it only to drive yourself to work, to school, to the doctor, or another place the court would allow, and for nowhere else.

You can get a conditional driving license if you meet the following two criteria:

  • This is your first DWI or DWAI offense and
  • You have enrolled in a Drinking Driver Program

Meeting these criteria, however, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get one. You can submit an application to the DMV, but if the judge finds that you shouldn’t be granted one, he or she will make the procedure to stop.

How to Reinstate Your Driving License in New York

To be eligible for reinstating your driver’s license, you need to serve your jail time, pay the fines, and complete the alcohol assessment programs. After that, all you have to do is go to your local DMV, pay the reinstatement fees and have your license back.

Additional New York resources you may need:

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