A DWI charge is a serious offense and a scary experience. What started as a fun night can turn quickly into a night you’ll remember forever—and not in a good way. While you can’t change what happened, you can understand the implications and work to minimize the impact this one night will have on your life.

What blood alcohol concentration is against the law?

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher is considered driving while intoxicated in the state of New York. Regulations are even stricter for commercial vehicle drivers at just .04. It’s vital to remember that the body absorbs alcohol slowly, roughly one drink per hour. Factors like food and body weight also factor in. It’s impossible to know how your body will read on a breathalyzer test, so it’s always safer to use a ride than drive.

What are the penalties in New York?

For a non-aggravated first-time offense, the penalties are still serious. Fines start at $500 but can be up to $1,000. Depending on the circumstances and the judge, consequences can include up to a year of jail time, which is unusually long in comparison to other states. Individuals convicted of a first-time DWI will have their license revoked for a minimum of six months with possible reinstatement after that period.

What hidden consequences might a DWI entail?

Because a DWI goes on a criminal record, it will appear on background checks from now on. It could affect your employment potential and your college prospects. Having a DWI could also cause your auto insurance rates to rise.

If you find yourself in a position to need this knowledge, help is available. Taking the right steps can mitigate some of these ill effects.