Avoid a DWI in New York (5 Things You Need to Know about DWI)

To avoid a DWI in New York State, you should know at least these five things.

       Overview

I.   DWI in New York
II.  Penalties
III.The Costs
IV. Sobriety Tests
V.  Avoid Arrest

I. DWI in New York

It’s a criminal act to drive while impaired. That’s driving while intoxicated or DWI in New York.

The illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) varies. It’s 0.08% or higher for drivers age 21 and older. For those driving commercial vehicles, it’s 0.04% or more. And for drivers under 21, including adults 18 through 20, it’s 0.02% or more.

dwi in new yorkNew York has a zero tolerance policy for drivers under 21. However, they may legally drive with some alcohol in their bodies. The State does this to reduce the chance of convicting innocent young drivers.

The logic is clear. “Breathalyzers” or alcohol breath testers are unreliable. In fact, they don’t actually measure BAC. They only estimate it. (Measuring BAC requires analyzing a sample of actual blood.) That’s why not all states permit breathalyzers.

Another reason for not demanding 0.00% BAC is that everyone of every age produces alcohol naturally in their bodies. This includes all drivers under 21. And they produce this alcohol 24/7.

A third reason is that many medications and foods contain alcohol. For example baked products, including bread do.

Other Forms of Illegal Driving

A-DWI is aggravated DWI. It’s driving with a BAC of 0.18% or higher.

DWAI/Alcohol is driving while ability is impaired by alcohol.

DWAI/Drugs is driving while impaired by a drug or drugs. They may be legal and/or illicit.

DWAI/Combination is driving while impaired by a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs.

II. Penalties

The exact penalties imposed for DWI in New Youk vary. Many factors cause these differences. Thy include such things as

dwi in new york

Please, no! Not her!

  • Driver’s Age.
  • Type of license.
  • Estimated BAC.
  • The impairing substance(s)
  • Any prior DWIs.
  • Consequences of the DWI, if any (property damage, injuries, etc.)
  • Any minors in the vehicle.
  • Skill of driver’s attorney.
  • Characteristics of driver (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
  • Beliefs and personality of judge hearing the case. That’s just the luck of the draw.

Driver Under 21

First DWI

dwi in new york License suspension for six months.
• Fine of $125.
• Fee of $100.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program and at least $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.

Second DWI

• License revocation for one year.
• Fine of $125.
• Fee of $100.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program. Also a minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.
• An ignition interlock device (IID) may be required. This prevents the vehicle from starting if there is alcohol on thr driver’s breath.Offender pays all installation, maintenance, and monitoring fees. Learn more about ignition interlock devices.

Driver 21 or Older

The penalties for DWI and DWAI/Drugs are the same.

First DWI or DWAI/Drugs within Ten Years

dwi in new york Up to one year imprisonment.
• License revocation for six months.
• Fine of $500 to $1,000.
• A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.

Second DWI or DWAI/Drugs within Ten Years

• Up to four years imprisonment, with a minimum of five days in jail or 30 days of community service.
• License revocation for at least one year.
• Fine of $1,000 – $5,000.
• A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.

First DWAI/Alcohol

dwi in new york Up to 15 days in jail.
• License suspension for 90 days.
• Fine of $300 to $500.
• A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.

Second DWAI/Alcohol within Five Years

• Up to 30 days in jail.
• Fine of $500 – $750.
• A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.

First DWAI/Combination

• Up to one year imprisonment.
dwi in new yorkLicense revocation for at least six months
• Fine of $500 to $1,000.
• A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.

Second DWAI/Combination

• Up to four years imprisonment.
• License revocation for one year to 18 months.
• Fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
• A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.

First Aggravated DWI (A-DWI)

• Aggravated DWI occurs when driving with a BAC of 0.16 or higher.
• Up to one year imprisonment.
• License revocation for at least one year.
• Fine of $1,000 to $2,500.
• A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.

Second Aggravated DWI (A-DWI) within Five Years

• Up to four years imprisonment.
• Fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
• License revocation for at least 18 months.
• A minimum of $750 in Driver Responsibility Program fines.
• Possible $300 Drinking Driver Program.

III. The Costs

Legal Defense

Getting charged with a DWI in New York is very expensive, as it is elsewhere. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.

The cost of a legal DWI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money.

dwi in new yorkIt’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may take less time.

Its obvious that simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.

Other Costs

There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an DWI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.

Knowing the high costs of a DWI is helpful. It’s a great motivation. That can help us try to avoid getting one.

IV. Sobriety Tests

Chemical Tests

dwi in new yorkAll states require drivers to submit to alcohol breath tests (estimators). That, in spite of their scientifically proven unreliability.

However, all drivers have a Constitutional right to decline taking a chemical BAC test. In spite of that, New York punishes those who use their right.  Even if they are innocent of DWI, their licenses are revoked for one year. Also, they’re fined $500. If they use the Constitution a second time within five years, they’re punished more severely. For that, their license is revoked for 18 months and they’re fined $750.

Field Sobriety Tests

However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.

dwi in new yorkNaturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people must be much higher.

Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.

An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.

Discover much more about field sobriety tests. You may not like what you learn. However, knowledge is power. Also, learn What to Do If You Are Pulled Over.

V. Avoid Arrest

dwi in new yorkObviously, one way to avoid a DWI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to use a Designated Driver or use public transportation.

Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.

So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal, except for drivers under 21. It’s to maintain a low BAC.

These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.

dwi in new york

Standard Drinks

  • Remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol.
  • Have no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably less.
  • Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
  • Eat and snack while drinking. This is very important!
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
  • Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
  • Never engage in any drinking game.
  • Don’t try to “keep up” with the drinking of others.
Arrested for DWI in New York?

This website strongly opposes impaired driving. But it also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.

If you’re charged with a DWI in New York, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. Better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.

The New York State Bar (lawyer) Association has a lawyer referral service covering most counties. Martingale-Hubbell offers a free on-line database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides client and peer evaluations.

Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.

Resources

Brezina, C. I’ve Gotten a DWI/DUI, Now What? NY: Rosen, 2016.

CDC. Teen Drinking and Driving. Atlanta: 2012. (website)

___. Impaired Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Gillespie, L. Police Encounters. Know Your Rights. Gillespie, 2014.

Hudson, T. The Drinker’s Guide to Driving: The Secrets of DUI, From One of America’s Top DUI Lawyers. Cork: BookBaby, 2013.

Keech, C. & Fairchild, C. Dude, What are My Rights? Kansas City, MO: Keechild, 2014.

Lauterjung, L. DUI law for Drivers. How to Avoid DUI Arrests and How to Handle a DUI Stop. Lauterjung, 2012.

Nevels, T. Avoid DWI and Marijuana Charges. Cork: BookBaby, 2015.

NHTSA. Drunk Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Sagsletter, R. Rights During a Police Stop / DUI in the United States. What Officers Can and Cannot Do. Denver, CO: Outskirts, 2012.