New York DWI / DUI Laws Explained

Drinking While Intoxicated (DWI) charges in New York State are serious offenses. The outcome may affect not only the defendant’s personal life but also his/her professional life. Thus, it is not inconceivable that if a defendant is found guilty, he/she will be fined, lose his/her drivers license, and be jailed. Experience legal representation is crucial to protect your rights if you have been charged with a New York DWI / DUI.  Call the Kushner Law Group now to protect your rights at (718) 504-1440.

In addition to fines, revocation of driver’s licenses and jail time, the court may also make it mandatory for the driver to use an ignition interlock device (IID) on his/her vehicle. An IID is a device that works like a breathalyzer which is attached to the vehicle’s ignition system and shuts the ignition off if the driver’s blood alcohol level is higher than the prescribed legal limit. The driver is responsible for all the costs associated with the IID, including monthly fees, cost of installing the IID in another vehicle and for uninstalling the device once the mandatory term of use is over.

The court may also have the defendant participate in the state’s Drinking Driver Program (DDP). DDP is DWI program/school with weekly classroom sessions. The defendant is responsible for a $75 fee with additional fees of up to $225.

Many people think that DWI and DUI (driving under the influence) charges are the same thing. However, they are two different terms with different recognized meanings. Generally speaking, the law allows an individual to drive as long as their blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) is below a certain mandated level. So it is illegal for an individual to drive if their BAC level is above a certain point. A driver is charged with a DWI when their BAC is 0.08 percent or higher. DUI’s refers to a driver with a BAC level that is lower than 0.08.

New York State doesn’t actually recognize the term DUI. New York State recognizes the terms DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DWAI (driving while ability compared). A driver is charged with a DWI when his/her BAC is 0.08% or above. In this instance, the driver is considered intoxicated. A driver is charged with a DWAI when his/her BAC is between 0.05% and 0.07%. In addition, DWAI’s are specific to whatever substance is impairing the individual’s ability to drive. For example, a driver can be charged with a DWAI-Alcohol when driving under the influences of alcohol or be charged with a DWAI-Drugs when driving under the influence of drugs/narcotics.

What is a Driver’s Legal Limit

When determining the drivers legal limit, New York State not only factors into consideration the drivers BAC level but also his/her age, and whether the vehicle is a commercial vehicle or not.

A driver will be charged a DWI if the driver’s BAC is:

1. 0.08% and the driver is 21 years old or older.
2. 0.04% and the driver is driving a commercial motor vehicle.
3. 0.02% and the driver is younger than 21 years old.

Other Driving Under the Influence Charges

As described above, there are other driving under the influence charges. These charges factor in the drivers BAC levels and what type of substance the driver has taken. For instance:

1. DWAI/Alcohol: Is a charge for Driving While Ability Impaired by alcohol.
2. DWAI/Drugs: Is the charge for Driving While Ability Impaired by a drug that’s not alcohol.
3. DWAI/Combination: Is the charge for Driving While Ability Impaired by a combination of alcohol and other drugs.
4. Aggravated DWI (A-DWI): Is an aggravated charge of having a BAC level of 0.18 or higher.

Penalties

In determining the penalties for the various charges, many factors are taken into consideration, from the defendant’s age to what type or combination of substances the defendant used while driving. Below is a list of the possible penalties.

Where the defendant is under 21 and is arrested for driving with a BAC of 0.02% or higher; the defendant has broken New York’s Zero Tolerance Law.

First Offense

1. Suspended license for 6 months.
2. $125 civil penalty.
3. $100 fee for suspension termination.
4. Potential mandatory enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with all associated costs.
5. Potential installation of an ignition interlock device on the defendant’s vehicle with all associated costs.

Second Offense

1. 1 year revocation of license or until the defendant turns 21 years old.
2. Civil penalty of $125.
3. Suspension termination fee of $100.
4. Potential mandatory enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program
(DDP) with all associated costs.
5. Potential installation of an ignition interlock device on the defendant’s vehicle with all associated costs.

Where the defendant is 21 years old or older:

DWAI/Alcohol

First Offense

1. 90 days license suspension.
2. A fine between $300 – $500.
3. A $250 minimum yearly assessment fine. Totaling $750 in fines over a 3 year period.
4. Potential mandatory enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with all the associated costs.

Second Offense

Defendants with a second DWAI/Alcohol charge in 5 years, are subject to:

1. 6 month license revocation.
2. $500 – $750 fine.
3. A $250 minimum yearly assessment fine. This totals $750 in fines over 3 year period.
4. Up to 30 days in jail.
5. Potential enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with all associated costs.

DWI and DWAI/Drugs

DWI and DWAI/Drugs carry the same penalties.

First Offense

1. DWI: 6 months revocation of license.
2. DWAI: 6 months suspension of license.
3. A $500 – $1,000 fine.
4. A minimum $250 yearly assessment fine, totaling $750 in fines over 3 years.
5. Up to 1 year in jail.
6. Potential enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with associated costs.

Second Offense

Penalties against the driver if he/she commits another DWI or DWAI/Drugs offense within 10 years of his/her first offense:

1. At least 1 year license revocation.
2. A fine between $1,000 – $5,000.
3. A $250 minimum yearly assessment fine, totaling $750 in fines over a 3 year period.
4. Up to 4 years in jail, with a minimum of 5 days in jail or 30 days of community service.
5. Class E felony.
6. Potential enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with associated costs.

DWAI/Combination

Persons driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs are charged with a DWAI/Combination.

First Offense

1. 6 months revocation of license.
2. A fine between $500 – $1,000.
3. A $250 minimum yearly assessment fine, totaling $750 in fines over a 3 year period.
4. Up to 1 year in jail.
5. Potential enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with associated costs.

Second Offense

Penalties against a driver who is charged with a second DWAI/Combination within 10 years of the last conviction.

1. At least 1 year (18 months) license revocation.
2. A fine between $1,000 – $5,000.
3. A minimum $250 annual assessment fine, for a total of $750 in fines over 3 years.
4. Up to 4 years in jail.
5. Class E Felony.
6. Potential enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with all associated costs.

Aggravated DWI

Aggravated DWI―or A-DWI is charged against a driver who has a BAC of 0.18% or above.

First Offense

1. At least 1 year revocation of license.
2. A fine between $1,000 – $2,500.
3. A $250 minimum yearly assessment fine, fines totaling $750 over a 3 year period.
4. Up to 1 year in jail.
5. Potential enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with all associated costs.

Second Offense

These penalties are for drivers with a second offense in a 10 year period.

1. A minimum of 18 months revocation of license.
2. A fine between $1,000 to $5,000.
3. A $250 minimum yearly assessment fine, totaling $750 in fines over a 3 year period.
4. Up to 4 years in jail.
5. A Class E Felony.
6. Potential enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP) with associated costs.

Commercial Drivers

Punishment for driving under the influence for commercial drivers is much stricter. It is illegal for a commercial driver to be behind the wheel if his/her BAC is 0.004% or higher. The fines and revocation of licenses are more severe. When it comes to commercial drivers, regulations and penalties are enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Chemical Test Refusal Penalties

New York state drivers are required to consent to be tested for alcohol or drug use when driving by means of blood, breath, urine or saliva under the Implied Consent Law.

First Offense

1. Revocation of license for at least 1 year (18 months for commercial drivers).
2. Civil penalty of $500 (civil penalty of $500 for commercial drivers). The driver must pay this fine before reapplying for a license.

Second Offense

A second offence of refusing a chemical test within 5 years of a previous chemical test refusal or DWI-related charge penalties are:

1. Civil penalty of $750.
2. Revocation of license for at least 18 months (permanent CDL revocation).

In addition, individuals convicted of refusing a chemical test will also be fined a $250 yearly assessment fine for 3 years.

Zero Tolerance Chemical Test Refusal

Drivers under 21 who refuse a chemical teat are subject to the following penalties:

First offense:

1. Civil penalty of $300.
2. Revocation of drivers license for at least 1 year.
3. A charge of $100 to reapply for a driving license.

Second offense:

1. Civil penalty of $750.
2. Revocation of license for at least 1 year.
3. A charge of $100 to reapply for drivers license.

These penalties also apply to subsequent offenses.

Applying for a Conditional License

If a driver’s license has been suspended because of DWI offences, some drivers are eligible for temporary driving permits also know as conditional licenses. IID’s are sometimes required depending on the circumstances.

Generally a driver may qualify for a conditional license if:

1. This is the first DWI or DWAI conviction.
2. Driver enrolls in a Drinking Driver Program.

Driver’s Licenses may be reinstated if:

1. All applicable fines are paid.
2. Jail time is completed.
3. Successfully complete the Drinking Driver Program, if ordered, as well as any ordered alcohol or drug treatment programs.
4. The ignition interlock device is used for the ordered amount of time.
5. The suspension or revocation period is completed.
6. Suspension termination fees are paid.

DWI charges are serious and complicated matters that require experience legal representation. The Kushner Law Group will provide you a strong defense strategy that will protect your rights. Contact the Kushner Law Group Now for a Free Consultation at (718) 504-1440 to protect your rights.

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