First-time DWI penalties in New York State

Despite the negative stigma associated with a DWI arrest, many very responsible New Yorkers find themselves facing these charges every day. A quick stop for a drink after work with colleagues, a summertime backyard barbeque and a wedding are just some of the typical events at which people consume alcohol before driving home.

While staying safe and preventing accidents is important, so too is protecting the rights of drivers. The penalties for impaired driving in New York are tough and can have serious implications for people who are convicted of these offenses. Understanding the potential outcomes is important for anyone who has been arrested for drunk driving in New York.

What is the difference between a DWI and a DWAI?

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, driving while under the influence of alcohol is a charge that may result if a driver's blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent or higher. Driving with a BAC level between 0.05 and 0.07 is considered driving while ability impaired by alcohol.

Is drunk driving a criminal offense?

A driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher may be charged with a misdemeanor for a first offense. A driver with a blood alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.07 percent may be charged with a traffic infraction.

Will I spend time in jail for a DWI or DWAI?

Even a first-time DWAI conviction may result in a driver spending up to 15 days in jail. DWI convictions carry with them the potential for up to 12 months in jail.

How much will a DWI or a DWAI cost me?

The minimum fine for a first DWAI is $300 but that go up to $500. A DWI conviction for a driver with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.17 percent may be as high as $1,000. For BAC levels over 0.17 percent, a driver may have to pay as much as $2,500.

In addition to these fines, there may be many other costs associated with an impaired driving conviction.

Will I need to use an ignition interlock device?

As explained by Intoxalock, Leandra's Law requires that all persons convicted of impaired driving in New York use ignition interlock devices for some period of time. In addition to the handheld breath test units, all models will feature a camera installed on the vehicle windshield. Pictures are taken during each test. Some units also include GPS trackers. Defendants will need to pay all costs associated with IIDs.

How can I learn more about drunk driving in New York?

After an arrest, a New York resident should always reach out to an attorney. Talking to an experienced professional may help people to better understand the law, potential consequences, and how to proceed with a defense.