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
- 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.