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DWI Laws

In New York, there are several different offenses that you could be charged with if you drink and drive, depending on the circumstances and the amount of alcohol in your blood (BAC). Here is a list, starting with the lesser charges and moving on to the more severe:

  • Zero Tolerance Law: In New York, if you are under 21 and drive after consuming any alcohol at all, you are committing a crime, even if you are not impaired. The Zero Tolerance Law applies if you are under 21 and have a BAC of .02 to .07. If you have more alcohol in your bloodstream than that, you can be charged with a more serious offense.
  • Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI)- This applies if you are driving and your blood alcohol level is between .06 and .07, or if it appears you are impaired by alcohol but not yet fully intoxicated. Basically, DWAI is driving with “just a little buzz.” It’s still illegal, but it is usually charged as a traffic offense instead of a criminal misdemeanor.
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) - You will be charged with DWI if your BAC is .08 or higher, or if your actions indicate to the police officer that you are intoxicated.
  • Aggravated DWI- You can be charged with aggravated DWI and receive enhanced penalties if your BAC is above .18.


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