DUI Laws

New York DWI Laws and Penalties

DWI or Driving While Intoxicated laws in New York are governed by the Vehicle & Traffic laws, Title 7 – Rules of the Road, Article 31 – Alcohol and Drug-related Offenses. Driving under influence of alcohol or drugs has serious consequences, and we advise you to examine the law carefully and if in legal trouble, hire an experienced attorney.

Article Content:

  1. New York DWI Types
  2. DWI Penalties
    1. DWI – Driving While Intoxicated
    2. DWAI – Alcohol
    3. DWAI – Drugs
    4. DWAI – Combination
    5. Aggravated DWI
  3. Zero Tolerance Penalties
  4. Chemical Test Refusal Penalties
  5. Additional Penalties
    1. Multiple Violations
    2. Death or Injury
    3. Driving with suspended or revoked license
    4. Ignition Interlock Devices
    5. Leandra’s Law
    6. Open Container Law
  6. Other Costs and Consequences
  7. Resources & Sources

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of less than 0.05% is legal in New York. Exceptions to this include commercial vehicle drivers, and drivers younger than 21.

In New York you are considered Driving While Intoxicated if your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is:

  • 0.08% or higher (21 years old, operating a regular passenger vehicle)
  • 0.04% or higher (when operating a commercial vehicle)
  • 0.02% or higher (less than 21 years old)

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is in most states referred to as DUI – Driving Under Influence. In New York these violations have serious and costly consequences, so take a look below for our basic overview of penalties and fines included.

DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired. A 0.05% BAC is evidence of DWAI. DWI is Driving While Intoxicated, where your BAC is .08% or higher.

New York DWI types:

Ranking from least to most serious, below are DWI or DUI offenses you can be charged with in New York:

  1. DWAI-Alcohol – Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol: 0.05 to 0.07 BAC with evidence of impaired driving.
  2. DWAI-Drug: Driving while ability impaired by drugs.
  3. DWAI-Combination: driving while under influence of both alcohol and drugs.
  4. DWI – Driving While Intoxicated: when your Blood Alcohol Concentration is 0.08 or more, 0.04 in a commercial vehicle, or 0.02 if you’re 21 or younger.
  5. A-DWI – Aggravated DWI: when your BAC is 0.18 or higher.

These are main potential alcohol and drug violations you can be charged with. Other related offenses you can be criminally charged with include reckless driving, speeding, or refusing a breathalyzer test.

DWI Penalties

Driving while intoxicated or drugged in New York state has different penalties.

  • DWI, DWAI-Drugs and DWAI-Combination have similar penalties, with fines for first time offenders ranging from $500 to $1000, 6 months driver license revocation, and potentially up to 1 year in prison.
  • Aggravated DWI or AGG-DWI is the most serious offense, where financial penalties are between $1,000 to $2,500, 1 year license revocation, and up to a year of imprisonment. Repeat offenders are looking at doubled fines but also potentially up to 4 or even 7 years in state jail.
  • DWAI-Alcohol is the least serious violation of New York DUI laws, but still nothing to sneeze at. First time violators must pay $300 to $500 fine and will receive a 90-day license suspension, with possibly up to 15 days of imprisonment.

Listed below are exact minimum or maximum penalties as per New York traffic laws. These include mandatory fines and mandatory driver license actions, and potential jail time. We’ll also take a look at other fines and surcharges and additional consequences.

DWI – Driving While Intoxicated

Driving While Intoxicated means your blood alcohol concentration level is over .08% and under .18%.

  1. Mandatory fine: $500 to $1,000
  2. Maximum jail time: 1 year
  3. License: minimum 6 months revoked

Second offense:

  • Mandatory fine: $1,000 to $5,000
  • Maximum jail time: 4 years
  • License: minimum 1 year revocation

Third offense:

  • Mandatory fine: $2,000 to $10,000
  • Maximum jail time: 7 years
  • License: revoked for minimum 1 year

DWAI-Alcohol penalties

DWAI-Alcohol sentences are handed when your BAC is over .05% and under .07%.

  1. Mandatory fine: $300 to $500
  2. Maximum jail time: 15 days
  3. License: suspended for 90 days

Second offense:

  1. Mandatory fine: $500 to $750
  2. Maximum jail time: 30 days
  3. License: revoked for minimum 6 months

Third offense:

  • Mandatory fine: $750 to $1,500
  • Maximum jail time: 180 days
  • License: revoked for minimum 6 months

Third DWAI alcohol conviction within 10 years is considered a misdemeanor.

DWAI-Drugs penalties

  1. Mandatory fine: $500 to $1000
  2. Maximum jail time: 1 year
  3. License: suspended for minimum 6 months

Second and third DWAI drugs conviction within 10 years is considered a class E felony and has increased fines and penalties.

Second offense:

  1. Mandatory fine: $1,000 to $5,000
  2. Maximum jail time: 4 years
  3. License: revoked for minimum 1 year

Third offense:

  • Mandatory fine: $2,000 to $10,000
  • Maximum jail time: 7 years
  • License: revoked for minimum 1 year

DWAI-Combination penalties

  1. Mandatory fine: $500 to $1,000
  2. Maximum jail time: 1 year
  3. License: revoked for minimum 6 months

Second DWAI combination conviction within 10 years is considered a class E felony with increased fines to $1000 – $5000.

Second offense:

  1. Mandatory fine: $1,000 to $5,000
  2. Maximum jail time: 4 years
  3. License: revoked for minimum 1 year

Third offense:

  1. Mandatory fine: $2,000 to $10,000
  2. Maximum jail term: 7 years
  3. License: revoked for minimum 1 year

Aggravated DWI penalties

Aggravated DVI or A-DWI (AGG DWI) charges are brought if your BAC is over 0.18.

First offense:

  1. Mandatory fine: $1,000 to $2,500
  2. Maximum jail term: 1 year
  3. License: revoked for minimum 1 year

Second and third Aggravated DWI laws violations within a 10-year period are considered Class E felonies and carry increased fines and penalties.

Second offense:

  • Mandatory fine: $1,000 to $5,500
  • Maximum jail term: 4 years
  • License: revoked for minimum 18 months

Third offense:

  • Mandatory fine: $2,000 to $10,000
  • Maximum jail term: 7 years
  • License: revoked for minimum 18 months

Zero Tolerance penalties

Drivers under the age of 21 may not drive with BAC of .02% or higher. In New York this is called the “Zero Tolerance Law”.

First offense:

  • Mandatory fine: $125 civil penalty and $100 fee to terminate suspension
  • License: suspended for six months

Second offense:

  • Mandatory fine: $125 civil penalty and $100 re-application fee
  • License: revoked for 1 year or until age 21

Chemical test refusal penalties

Refusing to take a breathalyzer test carries additional penalties.

  • Fine: $500 civil penalty
  • License: revoked for minimum 1 year

Refusing a chemical test within 5 years of previous DWI charge or test refusal carries a $750 fine and license revocation for minimum 18 months.

Drivers under age 21 refusing chemical tests are liable for $750 civil penalty and $100 re-application fee, and have their drivers licenses revoked for at least one year.

Commercial drivers who refuse to take a chemical test must pay $750 and will have their CDL – commercial licenses suspended permanently.

Under New York’s “Implied Consent” law all drivers must submit to a chemical test. Even if you are later not found guilty of DWI charges in court, refusing chemical test is a separate penalty and your license will be revoked.

Additional penalties

All DWI offenses have additional costs. $250 minimum annual assessment fee is charged to convicted drivers, totaling to $750 in fines over 3 years.

In addition drivers convicted of any DWI type may be required to enroll in New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP). It requires a $75 fee payable to New York DMV, and up to $225 in additional fees for the program.

Multiple violations

Multiple alcohol or drug violations within 25 years can result in greater penalties as well. Additional surcharges are also added for alcohol related misdemeanors ($260) and felonies ($400).

Receiving three or more drunk driving convictions within 10 years can also result in permanent driver’s license revocation, with a minimum period of 5 years before you can reapply. Three drunk driving convictions plus another serious driving offense can lead to permanent driver license revocation without possibility of re-application, as can 5 or more alcohol or drug-related convictions in lifetime.

Death or injury

Killing or injuring another person while under the influence can lead to criminal charges such as negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter or assault. These result in thousands of dollars in fines, and potential incarceration for up to 15 years.

Driving with suspended or revoked license

Driving with a suspended or revoked driver license leads to a fine of $200 to $1000, and a mandatory jail sentence or probation. If intoxicated or otherwise impaired while driving with a suspended license the fine can increase up to $5,000, and your vehicle may be seized.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Furthermore DWI or AGG-DWI convicted drivers in NY are required to install Ignition Interlock devices. These devices are connected to your vehicle’s ignition and prevent it from starting if it detects a .025% blood alcohol concentration or higher. IID installation and removal typically costs over $100 each, which is covered by the person convicted. Additionally these devices have approximate $100 fee every month you are required to use them.

Leandra’s Law

As per NY’s Leandra’s Law (named after a young girl killed while driven by her friend’s intoxicated mother) there may be additional penalties depending on circumstances. For example offenders driving while intoxicated with a child passenger under 16 years of age may be charged with a class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in state prison. Causing serious physical injury to a child under 16 while intoxicated is a Class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Open Container Law

Drivers or passengers of motor vehicles on public highways, roads or streets are not permitted to drink alcohol while driving, or even possess an alcoholic beverage with the intent to drink it. This is considered a traffic infraction with a $150 fine upon conviction, additional mandatory surcharge, crime victim assistance fee, potential imprisonment for up to 15 days and two points on your driver license record.

Other costs and consequences:

  • Having a criminal record can substantially hurt your chances of employment.
  • Multiple DWI convictions can make it more difficult and expensive to purchase liability car insurance.
  • Legal fees for lawyers and court costs can also range in thousands of dollars.
  • You can easily get sued by victims in case you injure other drivers or even passengers in your vehicle.

New York takes it’s DWI laws extremely seriously. In case you are caught driving under influence you can expect harsh sentences, and it’s highly advisable to hire a competent attorney to plead your case.

New York DWI penalties can be severe and repeat offenders may be looking at serious time behind bars. Even a second DWI conviction can put you in jail for up to 4 years.

It may be possible to sometimes bring down your DWI charge to a so-called Wet-Reckless, or a reckless driving charge. Even reducing DWI charge to DWAI-Alcohol can significantly reduce your penalties. Again, consult a professional lawyer and seek legal advice to learn more.

Resources and sources:

  1. NY Vehicle & Traffic Laws – Title 7 Article 31 – Alcohol and Drug-Related Offenses and Procedures
  2. NY DMV – Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations
  3. NY Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee – Alcohol, Drugs and Impaired Driving
This article about New York DWI Laws and Penalties was last updated in 2019. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!