DWI Penalties on Long Island, New York

Posted on November 18

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DWI charges and penalties on Long Island can vary based on the circumstances of each case. If you’ve been arrested for driving while drunk, it is important to understand the type of charge you may be facing.  Speak with an experienced Long Island DWI lawyer before you make any decisions or agree to any plea.  

Alcohol-Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) Penalties

A person is guilty of Driving While Ability Impaired by alcohol or DWAI if they operate a motor vehicle while their ability to do so is impaired to any extent by the consumption of alcohol. Under the law, a person is guilty of a DWAI if they drive a motor vehicle on a public highway after consuming alcohol and their ability to operate that motor vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver is impaired to any extent.

A first offense Alcohol-DWAI charge is considered a traffic infraction — It is not a crime. In comparison, a first-offense conviction for a DWI, a Drugs-DWAI, and a Combination-DWAI are misdemeanor crimes.

First Offense

  • Mandatory Fine: $300 – $500
  • Maximum Jail Term: 15 Days
  • Mandatory Driver’s License Action: Suspended for 90 days.
  • Administrative fees depending on where the offense took place

A person who participates in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can be eligible for a conditional license while their license is suspended.

Additional penalties:

  • Alcohol/drug screening, evaluation, and rehabilitation
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Paying a yearly driver responsibility assessment of $250 for 3 years

Second Offense

A second offense DWAI following a prior DWI- or DWAI-related conviction will carry the following penalties:

  • Mandatory Fine: $500 and $1,000
  • Maximum Jail Term: 30 Days
  • Mandatory Driver’s License Action: Suspended for 6 months.
  • Administrative fees depending on where the offense took place

Alternatively, a judge can require the defendant to perform 30 days of community service instead of serving a prison sentence. Some defendants who attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can get a conditional license. However, if a defendant has been convicted of an impaired driving offense in the last 5 years, they will not be eligible for the program, and consequently, the conditional license. 

A defendant who has been convicted of a DWI or DWAI offense in the last 5 years or has a prior license revocation for refusing a chemical test can also be subject to a license revocation of 1.5 years in addition to the suspension.

To be eligible for registration for a new driver’s license, in replacement of their revoked one, the DMV requires defendants to be subject to the following: 

  • Alcohol/drug screening, evaluation, and rehabilitation
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Paying a yearly driver responsibility assessment of $250 for 3 years

Third and Subsequent Offenses

  • Mandatory Fine: $750 and $1,500
  • Maximum Jail Term: 180 Days
  • Mandatory Driver’s License Action: Suspended for 6 months.
  • Administrative fees depending on where the offense took place

As with the second offense, a defendant can avail of a conditional license provided that they have not been convicted of a DWI or DWAI offense in the last five years and did not refuse a chemical test for BAC. The defendant would have to attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program to be eligible for the conditional license to be able to drive during their suspension period.

A defendant who has been convicted of a DWI or DWAI offense in the last 5 years or has a prior license revocation for refusing a chemical test can also be subject to a license revocation of 1.5 years in addition to the suspension. This is in addition to paying a $750 civil penalty fee.

For a third-offense Alcohol-DWAI, the following penalties are mandatory. Failure to comply can result in additional license suspension:

  • Alcohol/drug screening, evaluation, and rehabilitation
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Paying a yearly driver responsibility assessment of $250 for 3 years

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Drug-DWAI, Combination-DWAI Penalties

Under New York’s laws, a person is considered Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) if:

  • They are found to have a BAC of .08% or more
    • .04% and higher for commercial drivers, 
    • .02% and higher for those under 21 years old). 
  • They operated a vehicle in an “intoxicated condition”. Defined as impairment of the physical and mental capabilities of a driver to operate a vehicle with reason and prudence.

A person is considered guilty of a Drug-DWAI offense if they operated a vehicle and:

  • They test positive if are proven to be under the influence of a controlled substance; and
  • The drugs or the effect of the drugs impaired their ability to drive

A person is considered guilty of a Combination-DWAI offense if:

  • They test positive for alcohol and a controlled substance, or a combination of controlled substances; and
  • The drugs or the combination of drugs and alcohol impaired their ability to drive

The full list of controlled substances can be found under New York State Public Health Law 3306.

First Offense

Administrative Penalty: The court will suspend a defendant’s license while the criminal prosecution is pending if they were found to have a BAC of .08% or higher. The court will also suspend the defendant’s license if they refuse to take a chemical test. If the refusal is confirmed at the DMV hearing, the driver’s license will be revoked for a year and the defendant will have to pay a $500 civil penalty.

Unlike a first offense Alcohol-DWAI which is a traffic infraction, a first-offense conviction for a DWI is considered a misdemeanor crime. 

  • A fine of $500 to $1,000; and/or a 1-year jail sentence
  • Mandatory Driver’s License Action: Revoked for 6 months. May be eligible for a conditional license.
  • Administrative fees depending on where the offense took place
  • The defendant must install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle they own or operate during the span of their probation and conditional discharge. The IID will be installed and maintained at the defendant’s own expense over the course of the probation (a minimum of six months to a year)

Additional penalties:

  • Alcohol/drug screening, evaluation, and rehabilitation
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Paying a yearly driver responsibility assessment of $250 for 3 years

Second Offense

Administrative Penalty: The court will suspend a defendant’s license while the criminal prosecution is pending if they were found to have a BAC of .08% or higher. The court will also suspend the defendant’s license if they had refused to take a chemical test. If the refusal is determined unlawful at the DMV hearing, the defendant’s license will be revoked for a year and the defendant will have to pay an additional $750 civil penalty.

The defendant can be subject to a license revocation of 1.5 years in addition to their license being suspended prior to the criminal hearing. If the defendant:

  • has been convicted of a DWI or DWAI offense in the last 5 years 
  • has a prior license revocation for refusing a chemical test at least once for their previous convictions

Criminal Penalty: A second conviction of a DWI within ten years is considered a Class E felony. A defendant may also be subject to the following penalties:

  • A fine of $1,000 to $5,000; and/or a 1- to 4-year jail sentence
    • If the second DWI conviction happens within five years of the first DWI conviction, the defendant should serve a mandatory minimum sentence of five days in jail. As an alternative and at the judge’s discretion, they may be required to perform community service for a public or non-profit organization for 30 days.
  • Mandatory Driver’s License Action: Revoked for one year. May be eligible for a conditional license if the second offense happened more than 5 years after the first conviction.
  • Administrative fees depending on where the offense took place
  • The defendant must install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle they own or operate during the span of their probation and conditional discharge. The IID will be installed and maintained at the defendant’s own expense over the course of the probation (for the duration of the license revocation period and possibly longer at the judge’s discretion)

Additional penalties:

  • Alcohol/drug screening, evaluation, and rehabilitation
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Paying a yearly driver responsibility assessment of $250 for 3 years

Third and Subsequent Offenses

Administrative Penalty: The court will suspend a defendant’s license while the criminal prosecution is pending if they were found to have a BAC of .08% or higher. The court will also suspend the defendant’s license if they had refused to take a chemical test. If the refusal is determined unlawful at the DMV hearing, the defendant’s license will be revoked for a year and the defendant will have to pay an additional $750 civil penalty.

The defendant can be subject to a license revocation of 1.5 years in addition to their license being suspended prior to the criminal hearing. If the defendant:

  • has been convicted of a previous DWI or DWAI offense
  • has a prior license revocation for refusing a chemical test at least once for their previous convictions

Criminal Penalty: A third conviction of a DWI within ten years is considered a Class D felony. A defendant may also be subject to the following penalties:

  • A fine of $2,000 to $10,000; and/or a 1- to 7-year jail sentence
    • If the defendant is convicted of a DWI three times in a 5-year period, the defendant would face a mandatory minimum sentence of ten days in jail. As an alternative and at the judge’s discretion, they may be required to perform community service for a public or non-profit organization for 60 days.
  • Mandatory Driver’s License Action: If the defendant has had three impaired driving convictions, refusals, or a combination of convictions and refusals within a 4-year period, their license will be permanently revoked. After five years, the DMV can lift the restriction if the defendant:
    • Has not refused a chemical test during the five-year period
    • Has not been convicted of subsequent impaired driving violations during the five-year period
    • Can provide proof of documentation of successfully completing a rehabilitation program
  • Administrative fees depending on where the offense took place
  • The defendant must install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle they own or operate during the span of their probation and conditional discharge. The IID will be installed and maintained at the defendant’s own expense over the course of the probation (for the duration of the license revocation period and possibly longer at the judge’s discretion)

Additional penalties:

  • Alcohol/drug screening, evaluation, and rehabilitation
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Paying a yearly driver responsibility assessment of $250 for 3 years

Aggravated DWI Penalties

A person is guilty of aggravated DWI if:

  • They operate a vehicle with a BAC of .18% or more (Aggravated DWI per se), or
  • They operate a vehicle with a passenger 15 years or younger and commit a DWI, Drug-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI (Aggravated DWI with a child passenger)

Compared to other impaired driving offenses, New York laws have more severe punishments for aggravated DWI.

First Offense

Aggravated DWI per se is classified as a misdemeanor under New York’s driving laws. while Aggravated DWI with a child passenger is a class E felony.

A person convicted of a first-offense aggravated DWI will also be subject to the following penalties:

  • Aggravated DWI per se: a maximum of one year in prison and/or a fine of $1,000 to $2,500
  • Aggravated DWI with a child passenger: one to four years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000 to $5,000

Second Offense

Both types of Aggravated-DWI are considered class E felonies if the defendant has been convicted of a DWI, Aggravated-DWI, Drug-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI within the last 10 years. In addition, the defendant will be subject to the following penalties:

  • One to four years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, and
  •  An 18-month mandatory revocation of their license

Third Offense

Both types of Aggravated-DWI are considered class D felonies if the defendant has had two prior convictions of a DWI, Aggravated-DWI, Drug-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI within the last 10 years. In addition, the defendant will be subject to the following penalties:

  • One to seven years in prison and/or a fine of $2,000 to $10,000, and
  • Permanent revocation of their license, if the defendant has had three impaired driving convictions, refusals, or a combination of convictions and refusals within a 4-year period. After five years, the DMV can lift the restriction if the defendant:
    • Has not refused a chemical test during the five-year period
    • Has not been convicted of subsequent impaired driving violations during the five-year period
    • Can provide proof of documentation of successfully completing a rehabilitation program

Regardless of whether the defendant has had a previous conviction, they will also be subject to the following penalties:

  • Alcohol/drug screening, evaluation, and rehabilitation –  if the assessment indicates drug or alcohol abuse or dependency, a defendant may be required complete the treatment as a condition of their probation
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Paying a yearly driver responsibility assessment of $250 for 3 years
  • The defendant must install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle they own or operate during the span of their probation and conditional discharge. The IID will be installed and maintained at the defendant’s own expense and should be continued for a minimum of one year.

Get the Help of Experienced Nassau County and Suffolk County DWI Lawyer Edward Palermo

If you have been charged with a DWI in Nassau County or Suffolk County, we may be able to help. Experienced DWI attorney Edward Palermo has provided quality legal representation and counsel to Long Island residents charged with impaired driving offenses. At Edward Palermo Criminal Defense, our qualified DWI attorneys can conduct a strategic and comprehensive study of your case. Call us today at (516) 280-2160 or (631) 265-1052 to schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified Long Island DWI attorneys.

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