A criminal charge for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while ability impaired by drugs (DWAI) can have severe repercussions on a person’s life. The penalties for these drug and alcohol offenses include paying expensive fines, spending time in prison and losing the driving privileges. However, a criminal charge does not necessarily lead to a conviction. If you have a first-time charge for any of these offenses, you can still defend yourself in court to avoid conviction.
The penalties for DWI depend on the amount of alcohol that a person has in their blood while driving. In New York, a person commits the offense of DWI if they have more than 0.08% of blood alcohol content (BAC). For underage drivers, the limit is 0.02%. When it comes to drugs, any amount in the driver’s blood is punishable. The possible penalties for a first-time DWI or DWAI are:
- For underage drivers with a BAC between .02% and .07%: a $125 civil penalty, license suspension for six months and a $100 fee to terminate the suspension.
- For drivers with a BAC between 0.05% and 0.07%: a fine between $300 and $500, a maximum jail term of 15 days and a driver’s license suspension for 90 days.
- For drivers with a BAC over 0.08% but less than .18% or impaired by a drug: a fine between $500-$1000, a maximum jail term of 1 year and a driver’s license revocation for at least 6 months.
- For drivers with a BAC over .18%: a fine between $1,000 and $2,5000, a maximum jail term of 1 year and a license revocation for at least 1 year.
- For drivers impaired by a combination of alcohol and drugs: a fine between $500 and $100, a maximum of 1 year in jail and a license revocation for at least 6 months.
All of these first-time offenses are misdemeanors in New York. Anyone who faces conviction of a misdemeanor must pay, on top of all the other penalties, a $260 surcharge
The right of defense
A DWI conviction can stay on a person’s criminal record and negatively impact their housing and employment opportunities. However, you can still avoid the consequences of a conviction by proving your innocence to the judge. Not everything is lost, and you can still fight for your rights in court.