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State DWI laws and their penalties

The state of New York does not take driving while impaired by alcohol lightly. If you are facing a DWI charge in any of its forms, it is an issue that you should treat seriously, as the consequences of a conviction can take a significant toll on your life.

This state recognizes several alcohol-related traffic violations. What are they? What are their associated consequences?

Number one: DWI

A DWI, driving while intoxicated, is a charge filed against someone found to be operating a vehicle while having a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher. For commercial drivers, the BAC limit is .04 percent. Penalties for a DWI include:

  • Mandatory fine of $500 to $1,000
  • Up to one year in jail
  • License suspension of six months or more

For individuals who are repeat offenders, the consequences still include fines, jail time and license revocation, but the terms just increase. For example, a second DWI could result in fines up to $5,000, a jail term of up to four years and a license suspension of 12 months or more.

Number two: Aggravated DWI

This charge is for individuals found to be driving with a BAC of .18 percent or higher. Consequences if convicted on an aggravated DWI include jail time -- ranging from one to seven years, fines -- ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, and license revocation -- ranging from one year to 18 months or more, depending on the circumstances.

Number three: DWAI

A driving while ability impaired charge is for a person whose BAC is between .05 and .07 percent. They are not technically drunk, but they are struggling to operate their vehicle appropriately due to alcohol use. Consequences tied to a DWAI conviction are generally the same as those issues for a DWI.

Number four: Chemical test refusal

If asked to submit to chemical sobriety testing, such as the Breathalyzer test, you have every right to refuse to participate. However, the state then has every right to fine you and revoke your license. The fine amount depends on how many tests you've refused within a five-year period. For commercial drivers, chemical test refusal can result in the permanent revocation of a professional license.

Number five: Zero tolerance

The state of New York is harsh on underage drinkers. Anyone under the age of 21 found driving with a BAC of .02 to .07 percent is in violation of the Zero Tolerance Law. The associated consequences are a fine of $125 and license suspension for a minimum of six months.

If you are facing a DWI charge, how you approach your case matters. A charge does not mean an automatic conviction. There may be various defense options that can help your situation.

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