Contact Us Today

Suffolk County (631) 265-1052

Nassau County (516) 280-2160

I am Proud to have represented over 1,000 Long Island and NYC residents over my career.
click here tocontact Ed
click here to requestcontact Ed

Aggravated DWI in the State of New York

Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense with severe consequences in the state of New York. It refers to operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.18% or higher, which is more than double the legal limit. The impact of being convicted of aggravated DWI can be far-reaching, affecting various aspects of your life. Understanding these consequences is crucial to make informed decisions and taking necessary steps to defend your rights.

If you or someone you know is facing charges of aggravated DWI on Long Island, New York, it is imperative to seek immediate legal assistance. At Edward Palermo Criminal Defense, our team of skilled Long Island DWI attorneys can navigate the complex legal process, challenge the evidence against you, and work towards minimizing the consequences you may face. Don’t underestimate the impact of an aggravated DWI conviction – take action today to protect your rights, reputation, and future. Contact us today at (516) 280-2160 or (631) 265-1052 to schedule a consultation.

Distinction Between DWI and Aggravated DWI

Charges of Driving While Impaired or Driving Under the Influence (DWI or DUI) refers to a driver operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. 

In New York, a driver can be charged with a per se DWI if he or she is found to have been operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. The primary distinction between a regular DWI charge and an Aggravated DWI charge is the severity of the offense. Aggravated DWI usually involves factors that significantly increase the risk of harm or demonstrate a blatant disregard for the safety of others on the road. 

Some common factors that elevate a DWI to an aggravated level include having a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), endangering a child, causing injury or death, or having multiple prior DWI convictions.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Threshold

In New York, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08% for drivers aged 21 years and above. Drivers with BAC levels at or above this limit can be charged with DWI. New York also has a lower BAC threshold for commercial drivers (0.04%) and drivers below the age of 21 (0.02%). However, having a significantly higher BAC can result in an Aggravated DWI charge.

The specific BAC threshold for aggravated DWI in New York is 0.18%. Drivers found to have BAC levels higher than 0.18% can face advanced charges as driving with a high BAC indicates that the driver consumed a substantial amount of alcohol. As such, the law considers them more likely to cause severe accidents or fatalities compared to drivers with lower BAC levels. Consequently, the penalties for Aggravated DWI are more substantial than those for standard DWI cases.

Presence of a Minor in the Vehicle (Leandra’s Law)

One of the most concerning factors that can exacerbate a DWI case is the presence of a minor in the vehicle at the time of the arrest. Courts and prosecutors generally view this as particularly reckless behavior, as it endangers the life and well-being of a child who cannot protect themselves or make informed decisions. 

New York has a dedicated piece of legislation, Leandra’s Law, aiming to penalize instances of drivers endangering the welfare of children by driving under the influence, regardless of whether the instance is a first offense. Under Leandra’s Law, driving under the influence with a child aged less than 16 years old in the car carries enhanced penalties, such as increased fines, a sentence of up to 4 years in state prison, and a Class E felony charge.

These circumstances can significantly influence the outcome of an aggravated DWI case. Aggravated DWI results from a higher level of impairment and child endangerment compared to standard DWI cases. The penalties for Aggravated DWI are considerably more severe than standard DWI charges and often include jail time, heavy fines, and longer license suspensions or revocations.

Legal Consequences of Aggravated DWI in New York

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is already a serious criminal offense in New York. The consequences become even more severe in cases of aggravated DWI. An aggravated DWI occurs when a person is found to be driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.18% or higher. Conviction of an aggravated DWI can have advanced penalties compared to a per se DWI including the following:

Criminal Penalties

New York State imposes strict penalties on individuals who are charged with an aggravated DWI. These penalties vary based on the offender’s previous DWI history, the BAC level, and the specific circumstances of the case.

First-Time Offenders

First-time aggravated DWI offenders in New York face a Class E felony charge. The maximum criminal penalties for a first-time offender include:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine ranging from $1,000 to $2,500
  • Mandatory attendance at a New York State drinking driver program (DDP)
  • A one-year driver’s license revocation

For a per se conviction under Leandra’s Law, offenders can face up to four years in prison and to $5,000 in fines. If the child is harmed, additional penalties may apply:

  • If the driver causes or gets into an accident that causes serious injury to the child, the driver can face a Class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison
  • If the driver causes or gets into an accident that causes the death of the child, the driver can face a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison

Additionally, a first-time offender’s vehicle might be outfitted with an ignition interlock device for at least six months.

Repeat Offenders

Repeat offenders face even harsher penalties, often depending on how recently the prior offense occurred. If a second aggravated DWI occurs within ten years of the first, the individuals are charged with a class E felony, facing the following maximum penalties:

  • Up to four years in prison
  • A fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000
  • Mandatory attendance at a drinking driver program
  • License revocation for at least 18 months

If a third aggravated DWI occurs within ten years, the offender is charged with a class D felony. The maximum penalties for a third-time offender include:

  • Up to seven years in prison
  • A fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000
  • Mandatory attendance at a drinking driver program
  • License revocation for at least 18 months
Legal Consequences of Aggravated DWI in New York Criminal Penalties License Consequences Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA)
First-Time Offenders Up to one year in jail, Fine: $1,000 to $2,500, Mandatory attendance at a New York State drinking driver program (DDP) One-year license revocation $250 per year for three years
Repeat Offenders Up to four years in prison, Fine: $1,000 to $5,000, Mandatory attendance at a drinking driver program License revocation for at least 18 months $250 per year for three years
Third-Time Offenders Up to seven years in prison, Fine: $2,000 to $10,000, Mandatory attendance at a drinking driver program License revocation for at least 18 months $250 per year for three years

License Suspension and Revocation

New York courts impose license suspension or revocation in all aggravated DWI cases. First-time offenders face a one-year license revocation, while repeat offenders may face a longer revocation period. It is important to note that license suspension is different from revocation. A suspended license can be reinstated after a specific period, while a revoked license requires reapplication for a new license.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Requirements

Aggravated DWI offenders may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle. The IID is connected to the vehicle’s ignition system and requires the driver to blow into the device before starting the car. If the device registers any alcohol on the driver’s breath, the car will not start. The cost of IID installation and maintenance is the offender’s responsibility.

Driver Responsibility Assessment

In addition to criminal penalties and license suspensions, New York State also imposes an annual driver responsibility assessment (DRA) on individuals with an aggravated DWI conviction. A DRA is a monetary penalty, separate from any fines imposed as part of a criminal sentencing. The DRA for an aggravated DWI conviction is $250 per year for three years.

The penalties for aggravated DWI in New York are severe and can have a profound and lasting impact on your life. From substantial fines and license revocation to mandatory alcohol assessment and potential imprisonment, the consequences are significant. Moreover, the social and personal ramifications of a conviction can be equally challenging, affecting your reputation, relationships, and future opportunities.

Understanding the gravity of an aggravated DWI conviction is crucial, as it underscores the importance of seeking competent legal representation to navigate the complexities of the legal system. An experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney can help you build a strong defense, challenge the evidence against you, and work towards minimizing the impact of a conviction.

Common Defenses Against Aggravated DWI Charges

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges can be difficult to fight, but when you are faced with aggravated DWI charges, the stakes get higher. Aggravated DWI typically involves higher BAC levels or additional factors that make the offense more severe. If you are facing aggravated DWI charges, it is important to understand the possible defenses available to challenge these charges and protect your rights.

Challenging the Validity of the Traffic Stop

The first defense strategy against an aggravated DWI charge may involve challenging the legality of the traffic stop. Law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or a traffic violation to conduct a traffic stop. If the defense can demonstrate that there was no reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, all evidence obtained during the stop may be suppressed, and the charges may be dismissed.

To challenge the validity of the traffic stop, your attorney may review dashcam footage, police reports, and other documentation to determine if the officer had a legitimate reason to stop you. Your attorney may also examine whether the officer followed proper procedures during the stop.

Questioning the Reliability of BAC Testing

BAC test results are often a crucial piece of evidence in a DWI case. If the defense can challenge the accuracy or reliability of these test results, it could lead to a dismissal or reduction of the charges. Some ways to challenge BAC testing results include:

  • Questioning whether the breathalyzer device was properly calibrated and maintained
  • Investigating whether the testing officer was trained and certified to administer the test
  • Exploring whether there were any environmental factors that could have affected the test results

Medical Conditions and Contamination Issues

Certain medical conditions can interfere with BAC testing and result in falsely elevated readings. For example, diabetes or acid reflux can cause an individual to have a higher BAC reading than they actually have. Additionally, certain medications or mouthwashes can also impact the test results.

If you have a medical condition or were using medications or products that could have contaminated the BAC test, your attorney may use this information to argue that the test results are unreliable and should not be used as evidence against you.

Procedural Violations

If the arresting officer violated your constitutional rights or failed to follow proper procedures, the evidence collected against you may be inadmissible in court. Some common procedural violations include:

  • Failing to read you your Miranda rights
  • Improperly administering BAC tests
  • Not having probable cause for an arrest
  • Ignoring your right to speak with an attorney

If your attorney can demonstrate that a procedural violation occurred, the charges against you may be reduced or dismissed altogether.

Improper Administration of Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are often used by law enforcement officers to determine if an individual is under the influence of alcohol. However, these tests can sometimes be subjective and can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as your physical condition, the weather, and the officer’s training.

If the field sobriety tests were not administered correctly, or if the officer did not accurately evaluate your performance on the tests, your attorney may use this information to challenge the officer’s determination that you were impaired. This could potentially lead to a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you.

Several defenses can be used to challenge aggravated DWI charges. These include challenging the validity of the traffic stop, questioning the reliability of BAC testing, highlighting medical conditions or contamination issues, exposing procedural violations, and scrutinizing the improper administration of field sobriety tests. It is important to consult with an experienced DWI attorney to discuss the best defense strategy for your case.

Non-Legal Consequences of an Aggravated DWI Conviction

An aggravated DWI (Driving While Impaired) conviction can wreak havoc on your personal and professional life. The consequences of an aggravated DWI are more severe than a standard DWI, especially if there are multiple offenses. This is due to aggravating factors such as an extremely high blood alcohol content (BAC), causing bodily harm, or driving with a minor in the vehicle. Aside from the legal penalties, a conviction of aggravated DWI can have the following non-legal consequences on a person’s life:

Impact on Employment and Job Opportunities

An aggravated DWI conviction can have significant consequences on your employment and job prospects. Employers often conduct background checks before hiring or promoting employees. A DWI conviction of any kind signals a lack of judgment and irresponsibility, which can be a red flag for employers.

Furthermore, certain jobs may require a clean driving record or a commercial driver’s license (CDL). A DWI conviction can disqualify you from obtaining or maintaining these licenses, which can limit your employment options. For example, you may be ineligible to work as a truck driver, delivery driver, or in any profession where driving is a primary responsibility. Additionally, if your current job requires driving and you lose your license due to an aggravated DWI, you risk losing your job as a result.

If you are convicted of an aggravated DWI while employed, your employer may decide to terminate your employment due to the negative publicity associated with such a conviction. They may also be concerned about the potential liability or increased insurance costs associated with having an employee with a damaged driving record.

Insurance Premium Increases

One of the immediate consequences of an aggravated DWI conviction is an increase in your auto insurance premiums. Insurance companies regard drivers with DWI convictions as high-risk and adjust premiums accordingly. 

Depending on the severity of the DWI and other factors, your insurance premiums could double or even triple following a conviction. This can create a significant financial burden as you not only face increased monthly premiums but also the initial fines and penalties associated with the conviction.


Immigration authorities take criminal convictions, especially those involving serious offenses such as aggravated DWI, into account when evaluating an individual’s admissibility or eligibility for certain immigration benefits.

When considering an immigration application, including visa applications or applications for permanent residency (green card), immigration authorities assess factors such as moral character and criminal history. An aggravated DWI conviction, while not grounds for immediate removal, can raise concerns about a person’s moral character and may negatively impact their immigration status.

Social Stigma

The social stigma associated with an aggravated DWI conviction can be just as damaging to your personal life as the legal and financial consequences. Friends, family, and acquaintances may view you as irresponsible or reckless, which can strain relationships and make it difficult to form new connections.

If your conviction becomes public knowledge, you may face judgment and ostracization from your community, especially if you are well-known or if the conviction is particularly newsworthy. This can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety as you struggle to rebuild your reputation and regain the trust of those around you.

Restricted Travel and Driving Privileges

An aggravated DWI conviction can severely limit your ability to travel both domestically and internationally. While your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, you will be dependent on public transportation or the assistance of friends and family to get around.

In addition, some countries may deny entry to individuals with criminal convictions, including aggravated DWI. This can hinder your ability to travel abroad for work or leisure purposes. It is important to research the entry requirements for any country you plan to visit to ensure that your criminal record will not impede your ability to travel.

The effects of an aggravated DWI conviction go beyond legal penalties and can have long-lasting consequences on your personal and professional life. Such a conviction can impact your employment, increase insurance premiums, create social stigma, and restrict travel opportunities. If you are facing an aggravated DWI charge, it is crucial to seek legal counsel to help minimize the potential damage to your life.

Working with a Top-Rated Long Island DWI Defense Lawyer

The consequences of an aggravated DWI conviction in New York can be life-altering, affecting your personal and professional life, and potentially leading to significant penalties. It is crucial to understand the gravity of the situation and take proactive steps to protect your rights and future.

If you or someone you know is facing charges of aggravated DWI in New York, do not face this situation alone. Seek the guidance of an experienced DWI defense attorney who can provide the necessary legal support and advocate on your behalf. Experienced Nassau and Suffolk County DWI attorney Edward Palermo has defended the rights of numerous clients against charges of aggravated DWI. Our team of legal professionals can investigate the circumstances of your case and build a tailored legal strategy. To speak with a top-rated DWI attorney, contact us today at (516) 280-2160 or (631) 265-1052 to schedule a consultation.