Experienced New York DUI Lawyer

In New York, drunk driving is a serious crime that carries penalties including suspension of your license, expensive fines, and the potential for jail time.  The NYS law for drunk driving can be found in Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) section 1192. While Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is the common term, NYS does not have a DUI law. NYS Law refers to DWI or DWAI.  Regardless of the charges brought against you, your criminal defense is stronger with an experienced New York DUI Lawyer by your side.


On average, 100,000 people are arrested in New York for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In New York, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is used to determine whether you are legally driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Law enforcement will charge a person with a DWI your BAC is:

  • 21 and older: .08%
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle: .04%
  • Under the age of 21: .02%

Depending on your BAC and other important factors, one could face additional charges of:

  • DWAI//Alcohol- Driving while Ability Impaired by Alcohol
  • DWAI/Drugs: Driving while impaired by a drug other than alcohol
  • DWAI/Combination: Driving while impaired by drugs and alcohol
  • Aggravated DWI – Aggravated DWI is charged where the person has a BAC of .18% or higher or if there is a minor in the car

Factors taken into consideration in assessing the penalty for a DWI include:

  1. Your age
  2. The substance impairing you (alcohol, drugs, or both)
  3. Whether you submit to a chemical test
  4. If there was a car accident (MVA)
  5. If you have drunk driving related priors
  6. How the police officer says you were driving – i.e. speeding, swerving, not pulling over for the police

What if I am younger than 21?
If you are under 21 and are caught driving with a BAC of .02% or higher, you have broken New York’s zero tolerance law.

First offense: Your first offense your license will automatically be suspended for six months, a $125 civil penalty, a $100 fee for suspension termination, you may be forced to enroll in the New York Drinking Driver program, and you may be forced to put an interlock device in your car, which is both costly and embarrassing.

Implied Consent Laws:

New York has an implied consent law that requires all drivers to submit to a breath, blood, urine, or saliva test upon the request of an officer. Implied consent laws refers to the implicit agreement that each driver makes by driving on public roads and highways. The chemical tests are performed at the police station and the form of the test is up to the discretion of the officer. The driver has the right to arrange for an additional test to be done by a doctor of the drivers choosing.

New York implied consent laws also require that drivers submit to pre-test “breath tests” that determine the drivers BAC using a portable breathalyzer (PBT). A PBT is inherently less reliable than chemical tests conducted at the police station and results of a PBT test cannot be used at trial. Unlike a chemical test, refusing to take a PBT test results only in a traffic citation.

What if you refuse to take a chemical test in New York?

Refusal to take the test results in an automatic revocation of your license. Further, the judge will be told that you refused to take the test at arraignment, and the jury will learn that you refuse to take the test during your trial. To some jurors, hearing that the driver refused to take the test is enough to assume you are guilty of DWI. Finally, the District Attorney often treats you like a criminal and will refuse to plea bargain if you refused the test. Other people that were arrest and more intoxicated than you might have to pay a fine, take a class, and get their charges reduce. If you refuse, you won’t get the same benefit.

There are other consequences too, even if you don’t go to trial. A one year revocation will be incurred for a first time refusal to take a test. The second offense of refusal to take a chemical test results in an 18 month revocation of your license if you have had a previous DWI conviction within the last 5 years. An officer must inform you of the consequences of refusing a chemical test before the officer can declare that you refused to take the test. The officer does not have to allow you to speak with a lawyer, or anyone else, before you decide to take the test, even if you are under 21.

Potential Penalties for a New York DWI Conviction:

For the first offense there is no minimum jail sentence, a fine up to $1000, a six month license revocation, mandatory classes such as the Victim’s Impact Panel (VIP) and Impaired Driver’s Program (IDP), and installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). A second offence within 10 years is a class E felony, carries up to a 4 year prison sentence, 5 years of probation, community service, fines up to $5,000, a 1 year minimum revocation of your license, and installation of an IID. A third offense within 10 years is a class D felony, carries up to a 7 year prison sentence, 5 years of probation, community service, fines up to $10,000, a 1 year minimum revocation of your license, and installation of an IID.

Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)

DWAI is when you are driving with a BAC of .05 to .07 or your ability to drive as a “reasonable and prudent driver” has been impaired to any extent by alcohol.

Aggravated DWI: A DWI or DWAI can be charged as an aggravated DWI if you have a BAC of .18% or more or have a minor child in the car. An aggravated DWI or DWAI carry much more severe penalties.

Drug-DWAI: A person can be charged with a Drug DWAI where their ability to drive as a “reasonably prudent driver” has been impaired to “any extent by drugs.” This is an ambiguous legal standard that must be fought by an experienced lawyer to beat the charges.

Driving under the Influence of Drugs: New York has drugged driving laws that prohibit driving while impaired by any drug or controlled substance listed in the Public Health Law Section 3306. The defense that it was prescribed by a doctor is not an acceptable defense to “drugged driving” or a DWAI. First time offender face up to one year in jail, fines ranging from $500-$1000, a mandatory 6 month license revocation, and installation of an IID in any car the offender plans to drive or owns.

Combination-DWAI: The driver’s ability to drive as a reasonable and prudent driver has been impaired to any extent by a combination of drugs and alcohol.

Maneuvering through the many exceptions and loopholes in the system is best handled by an attorney who can ensure that your rights were not violated and procedures were properly followed at the time of the incident.