New York DWI Laws

Drinking and driving laws have gotten more stringent across the U.S. as the years have passed. Drinking and driving laws, procedures and penalties can vary greatly from state to state, and it is can be hard for people to keep up with changes. New York drivers should know what New York's driving while intoxicated laws are, what the penalties are for a first DWI offense and how they can reinstate their licenses after a DWI conviction.

Driving While Intoxicated

Like every other state in the U.S., the blood alcohol concentration that makes a person presumed legally too intoxicated to drive in New York is 0.08 percent. For commercial vehicle drivers, the limit is 0.04 percent. Drivers with a BAC of 0.18 or higher could face Aggravated DWI charges.

Drivers should not think they are safe if they have a BAC just under 0.08 percent, however. New York law prohibits "driving while ability impaired by alcohol." If a driver has a BAC of 0.05 percent to 0.07 percent and exhibits signs of intoxication, the driver could face a DWAI charge. For commercial vehicle drivers, the threshold for a DWAI charge is 0.02 percent.

New York has a "zero tolerance" law for drivers under 21 years old, meaning that if a driver under 21 has a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07 percent the driver could face criminal charges for violating the zero tolerance law.

Penalties for a First DWI Offense

The penalties for a DWI charge in New York can be severe - even for a first offense. A first DWI conviction could result in a jail sentence for up to one year, a mandatory $500 to $1,000 fine and a driver's license revocation for six months. Under Leandra's Law, all drivers convicted of a first DWI offense after August 15, 2010 must also install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for six months.

Drinking Driver Program

Drivers convicted of DWI may obtain conditional licenses if they participate in the Drinking Driver Program. A conditional license will allow a driver limited driving privileges. Upon completion of the program, which includes seven weekly classroom sessions for a total of 16 hours of instruction and a $75 fee, the DMV receives notice that the driver is eligible to apply for a new license.

DWI charges are serious matters, and people facing such charges should consult with an experienced defense attorney to help ensure the best possible outcome for their situations.