New York DWI LAW

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New York DWI video transcription

New York DWI law is unique in that it gives all motorists a qualified right to consult with a DWI lawyer before deciding whether to take or refuse the chemical test. Its critical to consult with a qualified New York DWI attorney before deciding this issue, since taking or refusing the test is an important and complicated decision following a drug driving arrest.

DWI arrests in New York will trigger two separate cases for those accused of driving while impaired. The first is the DWI case in criminal court; the second is the DMV case, where the New York DMV is empowered to suspend the driving privileges of those accused of DWI or DWAI (driving while abilities are impaired by alcohol).

New York DWI cases (also known as DUI – Driving Under the Influence) can be brought under one of two theories: either violation of the DWI "per se" law (which is based only on alcohol level, not driving impairment), or under a traditional "common law" theory (where the prosecution must prove that the driver is intoxicated). Intoxication, for the purpose of Vehicle and Traffic Laws, is a condition where the motorist lacks the necessary physical and mental skills to operate a motor vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver. New York DWI arrests based on the common law theory do not require any measurement of BAC; they may be based entirely on the opinion of the arresting officer.

DWI cases can be "aggravated" (with harsher punishment and penalties) where the BAC is .15 or more, where there is a traffic accident, refusal to take the chemical test, or any other attempt to evade police or flee the scene of a DWI accident.

New York DWI law is unique, in that it gives all motorists a qualified right to consult with a DWI lawyer before deciding whether to take or refuse the chemical test. (It is "qualified" because those arrested have a right to call and obtain advice from a DWI lawyer, but the police do not have to wait for that lawyer to show up.) New York DWI lawyers know that taking late-night calls is simply part of the job description. It is critical to consult with a qualified New York DWI attorney before deciding this issue, since taking or refusing the test is an important and complicated decision following a drunk driving arrest.

Drunk driving defense is a specialized area. Let one of the qualified DUI LAWS attorneys find a solution to your legal problem if you, or someone you care about, has been arrested for DUI or DWI. Contact a New York DUI LAWS lawyer near you for a free consultation by calling 1.800.DWI.LAWS.


DWI punishment in New York will depend upon whether the drunk driving arrest is for a misdemeanor or a felony. (A misdemeanor DWI / DUI case is one than can be punished by up to one year in jail; a felony drunk driving arrest may be punished for more than a year in state prison.)

A first-offense Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) case is a misdemeanor. However, if there has been a prior DWI or drunk driving conviction within 10 years of the arrest, the new charge is a felony. The 10-year period is calculated from the date of conviction of the prior DWI case, through the date of arrest for the new DWI case.

DWI arrests can result in a variety of punishments; the sentence given for a drunk driving conviction will depend upon the particular DWI charge, and whether there are aggravating or mitigating factors.

If you have been arrested in Buffalo, New York or any New York city, it’s important to understand the DWI laws and penaltiesContact a New York DUI attorney now.    

New York DWI Penalties in criminal court are as follows:
Driving While Impaired by Alcohol Driving While Impaired by Alcohol, VTL Section 1192.1:
Considered a non-criminal "traffic infraction" which does not leave the driver with a criminal record, this is the least serious DWI / DUI offence. The penalties can range from a minimum fine of $300.00 and a maximum fine of $500.00 to up to 15 days in jail or both. However, if the driver has already been convicted of one prior DWI / DUI offense in New York, the penalty is increased to a minimum fine of $500.00 and a maximum fine of $750.00 or 30 days in jail or both. If the driver has been convicted of two or more DWI offenses in New York, then the classification of this DWI offense is changed to a misdemeanor (which does give the driver a criminal record) with a minimum fine of $750.00 and maximum of $1,500.00, plus up to 180 days in jail or both. A mandatory 90-day suspension of the driver's license to operate a vehicle will be imposed if the motorist has no prior DWI convictions. The suspension is for 6 months where the motorist does have a prior DWI conviction. However, NY courts are often willing to postpone that suspension for 20 days in order for the motorist to petition the Department of Motor Vehicles for a restricted license that will permit them to drive to and from work only.

Driving While Intoxicated Driving While Intoxicated, VTL Section 1192.2:
This is the standard, garden-variety drunk driving offence that is typically charged when a motorist is arrested for DWI. It is considered a misdemeanor and does constitute a crime, giving the driver a criminal record. The minimum penalty, assuming no prior convictions for DWI as a misdemeanor, is a minimum fine of $500.00 and a maximum fine of $1,000.00 or both. A term of no more than one year in a NY prison is authorized. The mandatory license revocation is for 6 months, with the same provision for a restricted license through DMV as outlined above.

DWI as a felony offense: When a person has already been convicted of DWI as a misdemeanor (as opposed to Driving While Impaired, a "traffic infraction") the next DWI is much more serious. If the second DWI case is for Driving While Intoxicated, most commonly brought under VTL Section 1192.2, the new charges are raised to the level of a class "E" felony. The penalties increase as well. The minimum fine is $1,000.00 with a maximum fine of $5,000.00 possible. The motorist is also more likely subject to a period of probation for 5 years or may even be incarcerated for a period of up to one and one-third to four years. In such cases, NY courts can combine the penalties imposed, depending on the circumstances. A term of 6 months incarceration with the balance of 5 years spent on probation along with the fine, license revocation and drinker/driver program is possible.

Forfeiture of the Car Driven at the Time of Arrest Forfeiture of the Car Driven at the Time of Arrest
New York State's Drinking Driver Program New York State's Drinking Driver Program

Please note: Laws change frequently and thus the information provided should not be relied upon as legal advice. To be certain, contact a criminal defense attorney for a legal assistance. is not liable for any misinformation that users obtain from using this site Accessibility Statement

Updated: March 2019.

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