In New York, drunk driving convictions are violations, misdemeanors or felonies depending on the specific offense and with increasing penalties for each category.
Driving while impaired by drugs, or impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol, is always a misdemeanor or felony.
Violations may carry up to 30 days in the county jail.
Misdemeanors are minor crimes for which there may be a sentence imposed for up to one year in the county jail.
Felonies are serious crimes, which carry incarceration for more than one year in state prison.
Depending upon the percentage of alcohol in your blood, known as Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), you will be charged with:
- DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) if your BAC is more than .05 percent but less than .08 percent
- DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) if your BAC is between .08 percent and .18 percent
- AGG-DWI (Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated) if your BAC is .18 percent or higher
When is Your Offense a Traffic Violation?
A traffic violation carries the least severe of the penalties for drunk driving.
You will be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired By Alcohol (DWAI) if your BAC is more than .05 percent but less than .08 percent.
If you plead guilty or if you are found guilty at trial for a first offense or a second offense within five years, your conviction record will show your infraction as a traffic violation.
(The time between offenses is measured from the date you were sentenced for the first offense to the date of your arrest for the second offense.)
When is Your Offense a Misdemeanor?
There are five ways that your offense will be classified as a misdemeanor, which is a minor crime carrying a maximum jail sentence of up to one year:
- A third or subsequent offense within ten years of Driving While Ability Impaired By Alcohol (DWAI).
- A first offense of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- A first offense of Driving While Ability Impaired by Drug (DWAI-Drug)
- A first offense of Driving While Ability Impaired by Combined Alcohol and Drug (DWAI-Combined)
- A first offense of Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (AGG-DWI).
When is Your Offense a Felony?
The most serious offenses are felonies, which are second and subsequent offenses of:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- Driving While Ability Impaired by Drug (DWAI-Drug)
- Driving While Ability Impaired by Combined Alcohol and Drug (DWAI-Combined)
- Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (AGG-DWI).
In addition to the penalties imposed by the court, if convicted of a felony you will lose these valuable rights:
- The right to serve as a juror.
- The right to purchase firearms.
- The right to vote.
- The right to apply for welfare benefits.
- The right to apply for federally subsidized housing.
Contact an Experienced New York Lawyer
A lawyer can help to dismiss the charges against you, reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor, or seek to minimize fines and imprisonment.
At Sayegh & Sayegh, our skilled DWAI lawyers in New York have had years of experience assisting drivers in Westchester, Rockland, Bronx, Dutchess, Putnam, Orange and Ulster counties.
Contact us at (914) 968-5800 to schedule a consultation today.