DWI is the acronym for driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In New York the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for a DWI is:
- .02% if you are under 21 years of age
- .08% if you are 21 or older.
- .04% if you have a commercial vehicle license and operate a commercial vehicle.
New York penalties for DWI first offense convictions are as follows:
- Jail – Up to one year
- Fine – from $500 to $1,000
- License suspension – 6 month minimum
- Mandatory surcharge
- Mandatory Alcohol Screening and/or Alcohol Evaluation
Penalties are increasingly severe for the second and third offenses.
Note: NY law provides for a five-year look back in DWI cases.
Of particular importance are recent changes in NY DWI law. The 2010 changes:
- Make driving while intoxicated (DWI) with a child 15 years of age or younger in the vehicle a class E felony.
- If you are the parent, custodian or legal guardian of the child in the vehicle, the arresting officer must file a report with Child Protective Services (CPS).
You will have to deal with two separate cases if you are charged with a DWI. One case is criminal and the other, a civil law matter, is administrative in nature (handled by the DMV) and pertains to your driver's license and driving record.
Because criminal law governs the criminal portion of your DWI arrest, you must generally appear in court for arraignment, pre-trial hearings, and a trial or negotiated disposition. A case disposition may include sentencing—such as jail sentence—as well as fines and alcohol education classes, which are determined by the judge. While most drunk driving convictions are classified as misdemeanors when no injury is involved, you could still spend up to a year in county jail. If your drunk driving incident resulted in serious injury or someone died, you may be charged with a felony and may be sentenced to more than a year in a New York State prison.
The second aspect of your DWI charge is a New York Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles hearing in which your driver's license may be suspended or revoked.
Regardless of whether or not your DWI charge is a misdemeanor or a felony, if you are convicted you have to deal with any number of repercussions, which will in turn affect your family. Not only will you have fines and court costs, loss of your driver's license, and a possible jail sentence, but you may also have to cope with:
- Ignition interlock device
- Driver responsibility assessment
- Community service
- Criminal record
- Increased insurance rates
- Cancellation of insurance
- Job loss
When you are facing DWI charges, retaining an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
At the Patchogue, NY law firm of Marianne S. Rantala, P.C., we regularly defend clients facing DWI charges in Suffolk and Nassau counties. We understand the scientific procedures involved in Breathalyzer, blood, and other tests law enforcement officers administer to prove your guilt. As your attorney, we are always prepared to question the reliability, accuracy, and validity of the tests you were given and take every step necessary to protect your legal rights.
Take advantage of our firm's free initial consultation when you need an experienced DWI attorney. Contact the law office of Marianne S. Rantala, P.C., in Patchogue, NY, to find out how we can help. Call (631) 627-3433 to arrange a confidential consultation.