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What are the penalties for DWI in New York?

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Richard A. Portale - Criminal Defense - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Richard A. Portale

Located in White Plains, NYPortale Randazzo LLP

White Plains, NY
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There are three types of penalties you will face in New York if you’ve been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated: immediate driver’s license suspension while your case is pending, criminal penalties if you are convicted or plead guilty, and collateral consequences that you will face outside of the courtroom.

Driver’s License Suspension Pending Prosecution

In New York, you face suspension of your driving privileges for a DWI arrest before you are even convicted of anything. In most cases, this suspension takes place at your first court appearance, which usually happens as soon as a few days following your arrest.

  • Over the legal limit: If you had taken the BAC test and your reading is .08% or higher, you will be suspended from the first time you see a judge (arraignment) until your matter is resolved.  However, you can request a hardship license at your first appearance. You will have to demand a hearing and prove to the court that you have no viable alternative means of getting to work other than driving yourself. To protect your ability to drive while you fight your case, it is critical to have an attorney represent you at your initial appearance. If you need to drive for your employment, your job may be at stake. 
  • Refusals: If police are alleging that you refused the breath test, your license will be revoked from that first court appearance until the refusal hearing.  That is mandatory.  However, the DMV has 14 days to conduct a hearing to determine whether the police acted properly.  You must hire a skilled attorney to defend you prior to this hearing. If you lose, your license to drive will be revoked for an entire year. 

To be sure, there is a lot of work to do in the very early stages of the game and having the proper and experienced litigator on board is critical.

Criminal Penalties for DWI Convictions

The criminal penalties for driving while intoxicated in New York will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Your blood alcohol content (BAC)
  • If you refused the BAC test
  • If you have prior convictions
  • Other factors, such as if you were involved in a car accident or you had a child in the vehicle

 For a first offense in which you had a BAC level of 0.08, you face a mandatory fine of up to $1,000, three years’ probation or up to one year in jail, and revocation of your driver’s license for a minimum of 6 months.

You may be required to pay for and attend the Impaired Driver Program (IDP). The IDP consists of seven weekly classroom sessions for a total 16 hours. You will be charged fees of up to $300. In addition, the NYS DMV will charge you a driver responsibility assessment of $250 for each of the next 3 years. The penalties quickly escalate if you have prior DWI convictions or you had a BAC level of 0.18 or higher. You can face:

  • Permanent driver’s license revocation
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Prison time of up to seven years

One reason to avoid a first DWI conviction is to keep your record clean and avoid the possibility of a second DWI conviction in the future.

Collateral Consequences of a DWI Conviction

As costly as the criminal penalties for DWI, some of the most serious concerns are those you facße outside of the courtroom. A DWI conviction can affect your employment, your reputation and your family life.

You will have a permanent criminal record. That record will be visible to anyone who conducts a criminal background check on you. Background checks have become increasingly common for employment, loan applications, professional licenses, etc... Anyone who does a background check on you will know that you have a DWI conviction and could treat you differently as a result.

If you need to drive as a part of your employment, you could lose your job. Even if your employer wants to keep you, you may become uninsurable under the company’s policy.

For your personal vehicle, you may have to buy high-risk auto insurance, known as SR-22 insurance, for up to three years after your conviction. The typical rate increase for SR-22 insurance is from 40 percent to more than 200 percent after a DWI conviction.

You may face family consequences. Family stress related to a DWI conviction can place an enormous amount of stress on your family life. In all, the penalties for a DWI conviction in New York and other states have become so high that few people can afford to pay them. Depending on the facts of your case, an experienced defense attorney will help you mitigate and possibly even avoid many of these penalties.

Richard Portale is included in Top 100 DWI lawyers in NYC, Top 100 Trial Lawyers, America’s Top 100 Attorneys, National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys Top 10 and New York Super Lawyers.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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