New York DWI Laws and Penalties 2024 – Know Your Rights & Risks

It is illegal to operate a vehicle whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) will likely cause you to endure harsh penalties that could potentially cause serious strain on your life and the lives of your loved ones. It is important to be constantly aware of the New York DWI laws and penalties, as you never know if your life will be impacted by the actions of a drunk driver.

DWI Offenses in the State of New York

DWIs are strictly enforced by the NYPD and the criminal courts. It is not a crime to be taken lightly. According to the New York State Police website, drunk drivers cause more than 17,000 fatal crashes every year, which equates to one death every 30 minutes. In New York, a little more than 30% of all fatal crashes in the state are alcohol-related.

Under New York law, if a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds 0.08%, the driver is considered legally intoxicated and unfit to be driving a vehicle of any kind. If you are charged with a DWI, you should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as you can. There are several different offenses you can be charged with if you are found to be driving while intoxicated:

  • DWI: The most basic charge you can receive is a DWI. If you are pulled over and found to have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you can be arrested for driving while intoxicated.
  • DWI for Commercial Drivers: For drivers who are driving commercial vehicles, such as large delivery trucks, the BAC limit is 0.04%. You can also be charged if other evidence of intoxication is found, such as bottles of alcohol or illegal substances.
  • Aggravated DWI: If you are pulled over and your BAC is well over the legal limit by at least 0.18%, you can be charged with an aggravated DWI. A first offense for an aggravated DWI is one year of jail time, a fine between $1,000 and $2,500, and a loss of your driver’s license for at least one year.
  • DWAI by Drugs or Alcohol: Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) is equally dangerous. If you are found to have a BAC between 0.05% and 0.07%, you can be charged with a DWAI. If other evidence of drugs or alcohol is found in your vehicle, you can be charged as well.
  • Zero-Tolerance Law: New York has a strict zero-tolerance law for anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 who is found to be impaired while driving. If you are underage and found to have a BAC between 0.02% and 0.07%, you can be charged with a DWI.

Implied Consent Law

New York has an implied consent law that you automatically accept by driving within state lines. Essentially, the implied consent law states that if you are driving in the state of New York, you are automatically giving your consent to submit to chemical tests if pulled over.

If you are pulled over and suspected of DWI, you may be asked to take a breathalyzer test, a blood test, or a urine test. You have the right to refuse any of these tests, but that decision may come back to haunt you if your DWI case goes to court. You could face some civil penalties for refusing to submit, which include a $500 fine and a loss of your license for at least a year.


Q: What Are the Penalties for DWI in New York?

A: The penalties for DWI in New York depend on how many offenses you have already committed. A first offense DWI can result in a fine up to $1,000, up to 1 year in jail, a suspended license for six months, up to three years of probation, a $250 driver responsibility assessment (DRS) for three years, and an ignition interlock (ID) device being installed in your car. Further offenses result in higher fines and longer sentencing and are usually charged as felonies.

Q: Is Jail Time Mandatory for a First DWI in New York?

A: If you are charged with your first DWI, jail time is not mandatory. However, it is possible you will be sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail. You may be ordered to pay a fine of anywhere between $500 and $2,500, and your license may be suspended for a minimum of six months. You will also have a DWI charge on your criminal record going forward, which could seriously impact your future.

Q: What Is the 2-Hour Rule for DWIs in New York?

A: In New York, the 2-hour rule states that a person who is suspected of driving under the influence must be subjected to a blood alcohol test within two hours of either the time of the arrest or the time of a positive breathalyzer test. If a test is not conducted within two hours, then that test is considered inadmissible as evidence. This rule is only in place in situations where the implied consent rule is firmly in place.

Q: Do You Lose Your License Immediately After a DWI in New York?

A: You could possibly lose your license immediately after being charged with a DWI in New York. It depends on the severity of your case and any prior offenses you may have. It is up to the court to decide if you will lose your license. If you retain an experienced NYC DWI lawyer, you may be able to convince the court to allow you to keep your license or minimize the suspension time. Every case is different.

Reach Out to a DWI Lawyer Today

New York has very strict DWI laws in place to prevent people from making the very bad decision to drive under the influence. The harsher these laws are enforced, the more it could prevent someone from choosing to commit a DWI. But if you have committed a DWI and are in need of legal representation, reach out to Greco Neyland, PC, to schedule a consultation as soon as you can to learn what your options are and how we can help you.

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About The Author

Jeffery Greco

Jeffery Greco is an attorney providing legal services covering Criminal Defense and Criminal Defense: White Collar and Criminal Defense: DUI / DWI. Jeffery Greco, who practices law in New York, New York, was selected to Super Lawyers for 2020 - 2023. This peer designation is awarded only to a select number of accomplished attorneys in each state. The Super Lawyers selection process takes into account peer recognition, professional achievement in legal practice, and other cogent factors. Prior to becoming an attorney, he studied at South Texas College of Law Houston. He graduated in 2004. After passing the bar exam, he was admitted to legal practice in 2005.

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