If you're someone who occasionally has a drink and gets behind the
wheel, it's important to understand the penalties for drinking and
driving in New York because they are serious. These days enforcement of
New York's DWI laws is greater than ever-a result of using drinking
and driving fines to fund enforcement measures in the state. Moreover,
if you're a driver that belongs to certain group, such as an underage
drinker or commercial driver, special penalties apply.
Penalties for first-time DWI offense
In New York it's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08
or higher; however, it is also against the law to drive if the driver
is found to be under the influence of any amount of alcohol or drug. A
person convicted of a first-time drinking and driving offense faces fines,
potential jail time and license actions. A person convicted with a first
offense faces a minimum fine of $500, up to one year in jail and minimum
license revocation for six months. Individuals convicted with multiples
offenses or with a high blood alcohol content face gradually stiffer penalties.
DWI penalties for underage drivers
Drivers under the age of 21 face special rules and penalties for drinking
and driving. New York's Zero Tolerance law makes it illegal for a
driver under the age of 21 to consume any alcohol. In addition to the
legal penalties for DWI, underage drivers convicted of drinking and driving
face special license penalties. An underage driver convicted of DWI faces
the revocation of his or her driver's license for at least one year;
however, if the driver enrolls in the Drinking Driver Program the driver
may receive a conditional license for the time period of the revocation.
An underage driver who is convicted of a second DWI faces the revocation
of his or her license for the longer of one year or until the individual turns 21.
DWI penalties for commercial drivers
Commercial drivers in New York also face unique license penalties. Those
who hold a Class A, B or C license are held to stricter blood alcohol
content standards and face tougher penalties when operating a vehicle
that requires a commercial driving license. A commercial driver convicted
of DWI or having at least a 0.04 blood alcohol content faces the revocation
of his or her license for at least one year.
In addition to the fines for a DWI offense, drivers convicted of the offense
must also pay mandatory surcharges and a mandatory fee for assistance
to crime victims. These penalties are referred to as license penalties.
Many are also not aware that drivers convicted of drinking and driving
in New York face driver responsibility assessments, which are fines for
certain driving violations.
Because the elements leading up to a DWI arrest or charge are complicated
and the penalties for a DWI conviction are hefty, it's important to
consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.