Drunk Driving Defense Laws in New York

With the prevalence of public service advertisements in New York, everyone is probably well aware that drunk driving isn't acceptable in the Empire State. Strict laws and punishments govern drunk driving offense in New York. Of course the best way to avoid drunk driving charges is to not get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol. But people still make the decision to test their luck and drive drunk. It's important to know what exactly the legal blood-alcohol limit is and how much alcohol each person can consume to be under that limit. If you are arrested and charged with DWI, your case will enter the New York court system.

Drunk Driving Guidelines in New York

In order to be charged with drunk driving in New York, a driver's blood-alcohol concentration percentage must be determined. A driver who 21 years old or older can be charged with drunk driving if the BAC is at or above .08 percent. An underage driver's limit is .02 percent, and a commercial driver's limit is .04 percent. New York also has laws classifying a BAC exceeding .18 percent as excessive, which can lead to an aggravated DWI charge.

Conviction Penalties

The penalties for drunk driving convictions depend on how many convictions a driver has within the washout period. This period is 10 years in New York. While a first conviction in a 10 year period is a misdemeanor in New York, subsequent convictions within 10 years are felony charges. A second conviction in 10 years is a Class E felony, a third is a Class D felony.

Since the enactment of Leandra's Law, stiffer penalties and charges are possible for people who have minors under the age of 16 in the vehicle when they are stopped for drunk driving. This makes even a first conviction a Class E felony if a child was in the vehicle. It also increases penalties if a child is harmed or killed in the commission of a drunk driving crime.

Incarceration, Probation, and Community Service

Anyone who is convicted of a drunk driving crime faces time in jail. On a first offense, this is up to one year. A second conviction in 10 years can lead to a minimum of 10 days in jail or 60 days of community service. Subsequent convictions have a 10 day minimum jail sentence with the maximum of four to seven years.

License Suspension, Fines, and Other Penalties

All drunk driving convictions have driver's license suspensions attached to them. A first conviction results in a minimum of six months and subsequent convictions have a one year minimum suspension. In addition, ignition interlock devices are required for second and subsequent convictions. Fines range from $500 to $10,000, depending on the conviction. Additionally, alcohol assessments and treatment might be ordered.

Plea Deals Forbidden

New York doesn't allow plea deals on drunk driving charges. This means that even on a first offense, the driver wouldn't be able to enter a plea of guilty on a lesser reckless driving charge instead of pleading guilty to a drunk driving charge.

Individuals who are facing drunk driving charges in New York should learn all they can. Getting help from a lawyer experienced in drunk driving cases might help people who are facing a DWI charge.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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