New York DUI Law: FAQ

New York has 3 different drunk driving related offenses:

  1. DWI (Driving While Intoxicated),
  2. Aggravated DWI, and
  3. DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired).

Which crime you're charged with depends on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the time you were arrested.

What are the elements of DWI in New York?

The critical elements of a DWI conviction include:

  • Driving or operating a motor vehicle
  • On a road or highway
  • While having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level above the legal limit.

What are the penalties for DWI in New York?

The Penalties for DWI (BAC 0.08-0.17) in New York Include:

1st Conviction:
Misdemeanor,
Fine: $500-$1,000,
Jail: Up to 1 Year, and
License Revocation: Minimum 6 Months (Minimum 1 year If Under 21).

2nd Conviction within 10 years:
Class E Felony,
Fine: $1,000-$5,000,
Jail: Up to 5 Years, and
License Revocation: Minimum 1 Year (1 year or until reach 21, whichever is longer, if under 21).

3rd Conviction within 10 years:
Class D Felony,
Fine: $2,000-$10,000,
Jail: Up to 7 Years, and
License Revocation: Minimum 1 Year (1 year or until reach 21, whichever is longer, if under 21).

What are the penalties for aggravated DWI in New York?

The Penalties for Aggravated DWI (BAC of 0.18 or greater) in New York Include:

1st Conviction:
Misdemeanor,
Fine: $1,000-$2,500,
Jail: Up to 1 Year, and
License Revocation: Minimum 1 Year (same if under 21)

2nd Conviction:
Class E Felony,
Fine: $1,000-$5,000,
Jail: Up to 4 Years, and
License Revocation: Minimum 1 ½ Years (1 ½ Years or until reach age 21, whichever is greater, if under 21).

3rd Conviction:
Class D Felony,
Fine: $2,000-$10,000,
Jail: Up to 7 Years, and
License Revocation: Minimum 1 ½ Years (1 ½ Years or until reach age 21, whichever is greater, if under 21).

What are the penalties for DWAI in New York?

The Penalties for DWAI (BAC of 0.05-0.07 or greater) in New York include:

1st Conviction:
Traffic Infraction,
Fine: $300-$500,
Jail: Up to 15 Days, and
License Suspension: Minimum 90 Days (Minimum 1 year Revocation if under 21).

2nd Conviction:
Traffic Infraction,
Fine: $500-$700,
Jail: Up to 30 Days, and
License Revocation: Minimum 6 Months (1 year or until reach 21, whichever is longer, if under 21).

3rd Conviction:
Misdemeanor,
Fine: $750-$1,500,
Jail: Up to 180 Days, and
License Revocation: Minimum 6 Months (1 year or until reach 21, whichever is longer, if under 21).

What's the difference between DWI vs. Aggravated DWI?

In New York, you may be arrested for DWI if you are driving, operating, or in actual physical control of a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or above, impaired by drugs, or driving while impaired by both drugs and alcohol.

You may charged with Aggravated DWI if your BAC is 0.18 or above. (You can be charged with DWAI if your BAC is between 0.05-0.07.)

Do I have to take Physical Field Sobriety Tests when pulled over for DWI in New York?

No. The police will generally request you to submit to various physical performance tests, such as walking heel-­to-­toe and touching your finger to your nose. There is no legal obligation to take these tests. As the consumption of alcohol can impair your ability to perform these tests, it may be advisable to refuse to submit to any performance tests and thereby limit the potential evidence against you.

What can happen if I refuse a Chemical Test in New York?

New York has an “implied consent” law, which means that if you refuse a chemical test for BAC, your license will be suspended at arraignment in court, and revoked for at least one year (second offense, 18 months) at a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing. You will also be subject to a civil penalty of $500 (second offense, $750). Additionally, a driver under 21 years old who refuses to take a chemical test under the Zero Tolerance Law is subject to a 1-year license revocation and a $125 civil penalty. Remember, the penalties and fines for refusing to submit to a chemical test are separate from, and in addition to, the penalties and fines for alcohol or drug-related convictions.

What is the legal drinking limit for drivers under 21 in New York?

The legal limit for drivers under age 21 is a BAC of 0.02 or above. If you submit to a test administered by a police officer and your BAC exceeds this limit you will be notified to appear at a DMV Hearing. If the judge’s finding supports the charge, the penalty is a 6-month license suspension, a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 suspension termination fee. Each additional offense will result in your license being revoked for at least one year or until age 21, whichever is longer, plus a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 license re-application fee.

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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