The Definitive New York State DWI FAQ

The Definitive New York State DWI FAQ

New York courts crack down extremely hard on all those charged with DWI offenses, and it is no secret why; driving under the influence is extremely dangerous. However, that does not make everyone who gets behind the wheel after having a drink a “bad person,” though the New York court system may treat them as such. That being said, our firm understands that in many cases, people feel fine to drive, they have somewhere to be, and they simply get going. Unfortunately, that split-second decision can cause serious legal trouble for years down the road, which is why if you are someone who has been charged with a DWI in New York State, you must retain the services of an experienced New York criminal defense attorney as soon as you possibly can.

A New York State DWI conviction can cost you your job, skyrocket your insurance premiums, and even land you behind bars. This may sound horrifying, however, our firm is here to help. Once again, we understand that people make mistakes–and oftentimes, they grow from those mistakes. However, it is far more challenging to move on while bogged down by a serious criminal conviction. Below, we have composed a compact, yet comprehensive FAQ guide regarding DWI law in New York State. Please read on and reach out to our experienced Rockland County DWI defense attorney to learn more about DWIs and how our firm can help you through the legal process going forward.

What is BAC?

BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Content, which is the measurement used by New York State law enforcement to determine whether you are under the influence of alcohol. The legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content in New York State is 0.08%, which means that if you are found to have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you will most likely be charged with driving while intoxicated.

What are the consequences of a first-offense DWI in New York?

Though the fact that this is only your first DWI may work in your favor, the truth is, you are still facing very serious consequences. Upon conviction, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • A license suspension of at least six months
  • Various fines, ranging from $500 to $1,000, as well as additional surcharges
  • The potential installation and use of the ignition interlock device, at your own cost

What is the ignition interlock device?

If convicted of a DWI, you may have to install the ignition interlock device in your car. Essentially, the device requires you to provide a clean breath sample before starting your car. If the device detects alcohol, your vehicle will not start. However, there’s more–after starting the vehicle, the ignition interlock device will, at random, require you to intermittently supply clean breaths to keep the car running.

If you do not blow or the device detects alcohol, it will most likely trigger an alarm until you pull the car over or supply a clean breath sample. This is to ensure people do not have others help them “fool” the device. Additionally, these devices are oftentimes equipped with cameras. Rather obviously, the ignition interlock device is both embarrassing and inconvenient, which is why our firm is ready to fight for your integrity.

What is a conditional license?

In some cases, particularly if this is your first offense, a conditional license is something our firm can fight for. Certain individuals are issued conditional licenses so that despite receiving a license suspension, they can still drive exclusively to work, school, and doctor’s appointments. They are also generally granted a three-hour window, one day a week, where they may drive for personal reasons, such as food shopping, getting a haircut, or take care of anything else that they cannot drive to otherwise.

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What are the penalties for a second DWI offense in Rockland County?

If this is your second DWI, you now face even harsher charges, and the courts will be far less likely to let you off with a plea bargain. That is why you must retain experienced legal counsel at once. The penalties for a second DWI offense in New York State within 10 years of the first are as follows:

  • Up to 4 years in jail
  • License revocation for at least 1 year
  • Fines ranging between $1,000 and $4,000, as well as additional surcharges
  • The potential installation and use of the ignition interlock device, at your own cost

Will I lose my license forever for a third DWI in New York?

In some cases, individuals can permanently lose their licenses for their third DWI offense within 10 years of their first. Generally, the consequences of a third DWI conviction within 10 years are as follows:

  • License revocation for at least 1 year, though generally far longer than that
  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • Fines ranging between $2,000 and $10,000, and additional surcharges

What is an aggravated DWI?

If you are arrested with a BAC of .18% or higher, law enforcement will charge you with an Aggravated DWI. The penalties for a first-offense aggravated DWI in New York State are as follows:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • A 1-year license revocation
  • Fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000

For a second aggravated DWI charge within 10 years of the first, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to 4 years in jail
  • At least an 18-month license revocation
  • Fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000

Lastly, if this is your third aggravated DWI charge within 10 years of the first, you are facing extremely serious consequences, including:

  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • At least an 18-month license revocation, though you may lose your license indefinitely
  • Fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000

To learn more about aggravated DWIs in New York State, click the video below.

What happens if I get a DWI while under the age of 21 in New York?

New York State has a Zero Tolerance Law in place, which means that all motorists under the age of 21 who are caught driving with a BAC from 0.02% to 0.07% will be charged with a DWI. For an underage DWI, you can expect a $125 civil penalty, a 6-month license suspension, and a $100 fee to terminate the suspension once your time is up. If you are caught violating the Zero Tolerance Law a second time, however, you will face even harsher consequences. As well as the civil penalty and fee, you will have your license revoked either for one year or until you turn 21 years old.

To learn more about underage DWIs in New York, click the video below.

Should I refuse to take a breathalyzer test?

Generally, it is your best bet to simply take the breathalyzer test when asked, for if you do not, you will automatically face various consequences. Refusing to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood or urine) for the first time may warrant the following:

  • A $500 civil penalty
  • A revoked license for at least 1 year
  • Potential installation of the ignition interlock device

If you are pulled over and refuse a second chemical test within five years of the first refusal, you will face a $750 civil penalty and a revoked license for at least 18 months. For a third or subsequent refusal within 10 years, you may lose your driver’s license indefinitely.

To learn more about refusing a breath test in New York State, click the video below.

Will I lose my license if I get a DWI with a CDL license in New York?

Rather obviously, all New Yorkers must obey the state’s strict DWI laws. When they do not, they face serious repercussions. However, if you are someone who has a commercial license, meaning you have a license to operate 18-wheelers and other vehicles for commercial purposes, you are held to an even higher standard. For example, while the legal limit for BAC is 0.08% for other motorists, those operating commercial vehicles can be charged with a DWI if they are found with a BAC of 0.04% or higher.

For a first-offense DWI with a CDL, you can expect to lose your license for at least one year. However, if you were found transporting hazardous materials at the time of your arrest, you may even lose your commercial license for up to three years. That being said, you will also face penalties, not unlike other motorists, for refusing to submit to chemical testing. If you refuse, you will generally lose your commercial driver’s license for 18 months. To add insult to injury, these people will also lose their standard driver’s license, albeit for a lesser amount of time than the length of their CDL suspension.

For a second DWI with a commercial driver’s license, the potential consequences are far more grave: in many instances, you will have your CDL permanently revoked, on top of an even harsher standard driver’s license suspension. That being said, these DWIs are far more damaging, as your livelihood is also now in jeopardy. Fortunately, Attorney Spector is here to help. Our firm understands what a CDL revocation can do to a family, which is why we are here to provide you with the experienced DWI defense you need.

Can I get a DWI for driving while under the influence of drugs in New York?

Many people assume that DWIs are issued strictly to individuals caught driving under the influence of alcohol. In actuality, this is far from the truth, and if you are someone who has been caught driving while under the influence of drugs, you are most likely now facing DWAI-Drug charges. (DWAI means “driving while ability impaired.”)

First-offense DWAI-Drug charges are generally misdemeanors in New York State, though their consequences are still quite severe. They are as follows:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • A license suspension of up to 6 months
  • Fines ranging between $500-$1,000, as well as additional surcharges

If this is your second DWAI-Drug charge, you are now facing a Class E felony, which comes with even harsher charges, including:

  • Up to 4 years in jail
  • At least 1 year of a revoked license
  • Fines ranging between $1,000 and $5,000, as well as additional surcharges

For a third or subsequent DWAI-Drug charge, you are facing a Class D felony, and are looking at penalties that could seriously impact the rest of your life, such as:

  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • At least 1 year of a revoked license
  • Fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, as well as additional surcharges

Will I have to attend classes if I get a DWI?

Those who receive DWIs in New York State may also face additional penalties. For example, in many cases, if convicted, you will be sentenced to alcohol/drug screening, assessment, and treatment where you will have to prove that you do not have a substance abuse problem. If the screening determines you may have an addiction, you will most likely have to complete a formal substance abuse assessment–if you fail, you will have to complete treatment and provide proof completion.

Additionally, in other cases, people convicted of DWIs will have to attend the Victim Impact Program, where they will view hours-long presentations regarding the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. New York courts have also ordered many people to attend and complete the Impaired Driver Program, where they will spend hours or days-worth of time learning more about alcohol and why people should not consume it before driving. You will have to pay, out-of-pocket, for all these lectures, of which you may not even need to attend–just one more reason why if you are facing DWI charges in New York State, you cannot wait another minute–reach out to our knowledgeable firm today.

Contact our experienced New York firm

Those facing DWI charges in New York need a strong Rockland County criminal defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. With over 30 years of experience as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, Mr. Spector offers a unique perspective on how both sides think, and how to best approach each aspect of your case. If you need serious legal representation, why take chances? Our firm has the tools needed to tenaciously defend you against all DWI-related charges. Call today or contact The Law Office of Carl Spector online to schedule a free confidential consultation. We are ready to help you go on living life positively, happily, and free from the burdens of a criminal conviction–all you have to do is ask.

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