Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DWI) in New York can form grounds for a variety of criminal charges. Some people make the mistake of thinking they should not fight DWI allegations. Top reasons include a belief that chemical testing is conclusive proof and cannot be contradicted, or a belief that a DWI conviction will not affect your life in the long run.
Types of DWI charges
The basic DWI charge in New York is based on driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, or .04 or higher for a commercial driver, who can also face charges based on signs of intoxication even with a lower BAC. Other charges may include Aggravated DUI, which may apply based on a BAC of 0.18 or more, or driving while impaired by a drug or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Refusing to take a chemical test can result in a separate charge. A lesser charge of driving with impaired abilities can be filed when the BAC is between .05 and .07, or the driver shows other signs of impairment. New York also has a Zero Tolerance law, which penalizes drivers younger than 21 who have a BAC between .02 and .07. Repeat DWI offenses can also aggravate current charges and increase penalties.
Each of these offenses entails a mandatory fine which can range from about $220 for a first Zero Tolerance offense to as high as $10,000 for a D-felony repeat offense. These offenses also involve mandatory action on your license, which can range from a 90-day suspension to a minimum one-year revocation; courts may impose longer revocations, including permanent ones. CDL drivers will lose their licenses permanently for a repeat chemical test refusal occurring within five years of a previous refusal or DWI charge. Some DWI offenses can also entail jail time, with maximums going as high as seven years.
Fighting the charge
An experienced defense attorney can evaluate your case and identify weaknesses in the proof against you. Even chemical test results are not bullet-proof and may be susceptible to challenge. DWI charges can affect your sentencing in other cases as well as your professional future, so it is important to take them seriously and get qualified help promptly.