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DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated, a common crime that many people partake in. This article will discuss DWI Laws for the state of New York, including what qualifies as DWI, and the resulting consequences.

What is DWI? 

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a crime that a person commits when they make the decision to operate a vehicle after drinking alcohol. An intoxicated driver can become visually impaired, which can pose a serious threat to the driver, passenger, or individuals outside of the vehicle.

The following five factors may impact an individual’s level of impairment: 

  1. The amount of alcohol an individual consumes;
  2. The body weight of the individual;
  3. The gender of the individual;
  4. Whether an individual had eaten food prior to or during the consumption of alcohol; and
  5. The amount of time during which the individual drank alcohol.

Types of DWI’s

There are multiple types of DWI’s, which differ based on an individual’s blood alcohol level (BAC). The five types of DWI’s are:

  1. DWI: An individual has a BAC of .08 or above (for commercial drivers, this number is .04 or above);
  2. Aggravated DWI: An individual has a BAC of at least .18;
  3. DWAI Alcohol (Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol): An individual has a BAC of higher than .05, but less than .07;
  4. DWAI Drug (Driving While Ability Impaired by Drug other than Alcohol); and
  5. DWAI Combination (Driving While Ability Impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol).

In the state of New York, a DWI can be reduced to a DWAI. A DWI is considered a criminal change because it is a misdemeanor. However, a DWAI is a violation and not a misdemeanor, which does not result in a criminal charge. Reducing a DWI charge to a DWAI is beneficial, because there are more negative long-term consequences associated with a DWI than a DWAI.

Consequences for a DWI Charge

According to New York DWI laws, the punishments for a DWI include the revocation of one’s driver’s license, fines, and jail time.

Revocation of a Driver’s License

If an individual commits the crime of driving while intoxicated, regardless of their specific violation, their driver’s license will be revoked. A driver’s license can be revoked from anywhere between 90 days and 18 months. Moreover, an individual will find themselves with a lengthier revocation time if they repeat the crime more than once. If this is the first time the crime is committed, the driver’s license will be  revoked for less time.

Jail Time

Similar to license revocation, the length of jail time depends on the circumstances of the crime. Some individuals may not face jail time at all. Jail time for a DWI can range from none at all to 7 years. If an individual committed a DWI for the first time, they can face a maximum jail sentence of 1 year. If an individual committed a DWI for the third time, they can face up to 7 years. 


Mandatory fines vary based on the circumstances of each DWI. Mandatory fines in New York can range from no fine at all to $10,000. While ‘lesser’ crimes, such as DWI’s, may have relatively low mandatory fines, they can still include fees to terminate suspension, fees for reapplication, as well as civil penalties

Current Existing Laws

In the state of New York, there are a number of laws that address alcohol usage while driving. Most pertain to impairment in an individual’s abilities to operate a vehicle, such as the .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rule. Additionally, there exists the the Zero Tolerance Law, which is dedicated to underage drinking. Under the Zero Tolerance Law, if a driver under the age of 21 is found with alcohol in their system while driving, they can be charged in violation of this law along with a DWI. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between DWI and DUI?

A: Under New York DWI laws, there is no legal difference between DWI and DUI (Driving Under the Influence). The two phrases will be used interchangeably inside and outside of the courtroom. 

Q: How long can a DWI stay on my record? Can it be removed?

A: Yes, a DWI can be removed from your record. Keep in mind that it will take some time, depending on your specific circumstances. In New York, a DWI can be removed from your record in 5-25 years. 

Q: Can a DWI charge be dismissed?

A: Yes, a DWI charge can be dismissed for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons include: 

  • An officer did not have probable cause to arrest you;
  • An officer can not prove that you were driving;
  • An officer failed to follow protocol for the breath test;
  • An officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over; and
  • An officer can not prove that your vehicle was being operated on a public road.

Q: If I cause a DWI accident, what can the victims sue me for?

A: If you cause a DWI accident, a victim may sue you for a number of damages, including loss of income and benefits, medical bills, personal care costs, permanent impairments, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. 

Q: Is there any way to quickly ‘sober up’?

A: Although many believe otherwise, there is not a quick way to sober up. Accordingly, an individual must wait the appropriate amount of time for the alcohol to leave their body.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has obtained a DWI charge, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.

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