Everyone knows that drunk driving is both illegal and dangerous.
However, many people don’t think twice about running out to a bar or a
party, having a few drinks, and then getting behind the wheel of a car.
Is that safe? No matter how sober you feel, probably not! First of all,
even a few drinks can definitely impair your driving ability. Secondly,
consuming any alcohol at all before you get behind the wheel can easily
put you on the wrong side of one or another of New York’s impaired
New York has a couple of different charges that can be used to
prosecute people for drinking and driving. The least serious is DWIA,
“driving while impaired by alcohol.” If your blood alcohol content
(BAC) is between .06 to .07% or you display evidence of impairment but
aren’t quite “buzzed” enough to be considered intoxicated yet, you can
be charged with DWIA. DWIA is a traffic offense, not a full-blown
misdemeanor. Although the penalties are less devastating that a driving
while intoxicated charge would be, a DWIA charge is still a huge,
A more serious charge is “driving while intoxicated” or DWI. You can be
charged with a New York DWI if you are caught driving a car with a BAC
of .08 or higher, or if you the officer who stops you believes that you
are intoxicated. DWI is a not just a traffic offense, it is a criminal
If you are under 21, technically you should not be drinking at all. So,
New York has a “Zero Tolerance Law” set aside just for you. Under the
Zero Tolerance law, you can lose your license for six months if your
BAC is between .02% and .05%. That means just one drink your license is
gone if you get behind the wheel.
There are other, more serious driving-and-alcohol related charges that
you can receive if you hurt someone or cause an accident while drunk,
or if you have a very high BAC.
What happens if you get convicted of a DWI charge in New York? A lot of
things happen, and most of them are bad. For starters, there are the
fines. For a first offense, you’ll pay between $500-$1000 in fines.
There is also the unpleasant possibility of jail time-up to a year,
depending on the circumstances. Finally, you will lose your driver’s
license for at least 6 months and have to pay the DMV to get it back.
Even worse, your vehicle could be confiscated by the government
permanently through the civil forfeiture procedure, since when you
drive it drunk it becomes the “instrument of a crime.”
Fines, penalties and jail time naturally become harsher if you violate
the law again. For example, if you get another DWI within the next 5
years, the amount you will be fined increases to $1000-$5000. You will
either go to jail for 5 days or you will be assigned 30 days of
community service. You could even get 4 years in prison! Also, you will
lose your license for at least a year.
If you get another offense within the next 10 years, you won’t have
mandatory jail time or community service but you could still serve up
to 4 years in prison. Other than that, fines and penalties are the same
for as they are for a second offense within 5 years. If you keep
drinking and driving after that, you’ll be looking at more jail time,
more fines, an ignition interlock device on your vehicle if you are
allowed to get your license back, and more.