In every state in the country, impaired driving—whether it is because of drugs or alcohol—is illegal and always comes with stiff consequences for someone that is caught and convicted of this act. But every state is free to administrate the punishment of this crime in their own way. The state of New York is no exception, and DWI, or “Driving While Intoxicated,” has very specific laws and punishments meted out for impaired drivers.
However, New York state isn’t simple and binary about deciding on punishment. The law understands that there are different degrees of committing a particular act, and, as of 2016, there are a few specific conditions that can alter the way a court decides to resolve a DWI case.
First Time Considerations
One of the biggest mitigating circumstances that determines how a court handles a DWI charge is whether this is the first time the offense has occurred, or whether it is a repeat act. First time offenses always make an allowance for some leniency in serving out the charge, although this leniency may also be affected by the exact circumstances of an incident.
So, for example, if a driver was operating the vehicle in a relatively “safe” but erratic manner that caught the attention of a police officer and this resulted in a roadside, failed breathalyzer test, this would be very different from a multi-car collision in which deaths were involved.
Degree Of Intoxication
The law actually does look at the exact blood-alcohol level of the drivers being tested to help determine the severity of a charge. A typical DWI charge will be levied for a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. However, once a test reveals the blood-alcohol level to be at 0.18%, the charge is elevated from normal DWI to aggravated DWI.
It should also be noted that an aggravated DWI may also be used for someone below that blood-alcohol level that has any additional passengers in the car that are under the age of 15. The state takes it very seriously when the lives of children are put at risk.
Type Of Intoxication
The law will also look at the type of impairment a driver was afflicted with. While alcohol may be the most common form of intoxicated driving, it’s not the only one. Drug use can also severely impact driving performance, though this isn’t always as easy to detect on the spot, since many drugs will not be caught on an alcohol breathalyzer device.
However, there do exist two types of intoxication charges. “Alcohol-DWAI” stands for alcohol driving while ability impaired, and “Drug-DWAI,” which means Drug driving while ability impaired. There is also the Combination-DWAI, if both substances were involved.
The Price You Pay
A first time DWI charge can result in a six month license suspension, though that can go up to one year, depending on whether the driver is under 21, or it is an aggravated charge. Once the suspension period has passed, drivers will need to pay administrative fees to get the driving license restored, as well as have an ignition interlock device installed on the car for continued operation. Attendance of an impaired driving program may also be involved. There will also be fines to pay, which may start at $500, and go up to $2,500 for aggravated levels.
For more serious offenses, up to one year in jail may be served if the court decides on it. The conviction will also remain on your record, but not can be mitigated to down to four years before being removed. It can also remain up to 25, depending on the decision of the court.
As you can see, there are many nuances to New York DWI law. This is why if you find yourself in a situation involving these laws, you need the services of an experienced DWI attorney to provide guidance during this time.