What to Expect
from Your DWI Charge

According to a recent study performed by Backgroundchecks.org, more than 25,000 people are arrested in New York annually for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Every one of their lives will be negatively impacted forever by that arrest.

A drunk driving conviction can result in more than a fine and a record. It can seriously impact your ability to drive, and it will have long-term consequences on your driving record. It can strain personal relationships and cause financial stress if you lose your job or are forced to pay higher insurance premiums. Worst of all, a conviction can even result in jail time.

At Melanson Law Office, I use my experience as a former prosecutor to defend clients who have been charged with DWI and DWAI. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drunk driving offense, call my office today. I proudly represent clients in Kingston, New York and across the Hudson Valley.

Understanding DWI Charges in New York

The State of New York takes driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs very seriously. A driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of greater than .08 is deemed to have committed a misdemeanor crime. If someone commits DWI with a child in the car, it is a felony charge, whether it is your first or your tenth. Additionally, If someone commits DWI within ten years of a previous conviction, you are charged with a felony. Felony charges carry the serious possibility of prison time.

As you may know, DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated,” which is the act of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. For most drivers, that means operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or higher. If you are under the age of 21, you can be charged with a DWI for driving with a BAC of only .02 percent. The threshold for commercial motor vehicle operators is .04 percent.

DWAI stands for “driving while ability impaired,” which accounts for any drivers operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two. You could be arrested and charged with a DWAI if you register a BAC level between .05 and .07 percent.

Possible Penalties for a DWI in New York

Virtually all impaired driving convictions come with administrative and criminal penalties administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles and traffic or criminal court, respectively.

The severity of these penalties generally depends on the number of previous convictions and the BAC level that you registered at the time of your arrest. A BAC of .18 percent or greater will result in charges of Aggravated DWI. The penalties for drivers under the age of 21 adhere to New York’s “zero tolerance” policy, meaning the driver doesn’t even need to be impaired to face criminal or administrative penalties for a DUI conviction.

First Offense

The penalty for a first offense DWAI conviction is a traffic conviction resulting in a fine of $300 to $500, up to 15 days in jail, and a 90-day suspension of your driver’s license. If under the age of 21, your license may be revoked for up to one year.

A first offense DWI conviction is considered a misdemeanor offense, resulting in a fine of $500 to $1,000, up to one year in jail, and a minimum six-month revocation of your license. If under age 21, your license can be revoked for up to one year.

A first offense Aggravated DWI conviction is also considered a misdemeanor offense, resulting in a fine of $1,000 to $2,500, up to one year in jail, and a minimum one-year license revocation.

Second Offense

A second DWAI conviction in less than five years is a traffic offense resulting in a fine of $500 to $750, up to 30 days in jail, and a minimum six-month license revocation. If under the age of 21, your license will be revoked for one year or until you reach the age of 21, whichever is longer.

A second DWI or Aggravated DWI conviction within 10 years is considered a Class E felony, resulting in a fine of $1,000 to $4,000 and up to four years in prison. For DWI, there is a minimum one-year license revocation. If you are under the age of 21, the revocation is one year or until your reach age 21, whichever is longer. For Aggravated DWI, that revocation is 18 months if over age 21 and if younger, 18 months or until you reach age 21, whichever is longer.

Third Offense

A third DWAI conviction within 10 years is considered a misdemeanor offense, resulting in a fine of $750 to $1,500, up to 180 days in jail, and a minimum six-month license revocation. If you are under the age of 21, the revocation is one year or until you reach the age of 21, whichever is longer.

A third DWI or Aggravated DWI conviction within 10 years is considered a Class D felony, resulting in a fine of $2,000 to $10,000 and up to seven years in jail. For DWI, there is a minimum one-year license revocation. If you are under the age of 21, the revocation is one year or until your reach age 21, whichever is longer. For an aggravated DWI, that revocation is 18 months if you are over the age of 21, and if you are younger than 21,an 18 month suspension or until you reach age 21, whichever is longer.

Can I Refuse a Chemical Test?

You will not avoid any penalties simply by refusing to take a chemical test to determine your BAC levels. Your license can still be revoked for one year to 18 months for normal drivers, and a longer revocation is possible for commercial drivers. You will also be assessed surcharges of $300 to $750, as well as any additional fees to reapply for your driver’s license. These penalties will be in addition to those that you receive for a DWI or DWAI convictions.

Additional Penalties

In addition to the penalties listed above, the court can also order you to undergo substance abuse and/or driver responsibility assessments, as well as the completion of a victim impact program. You will also be penalized for any DWI convictions in another state, resulting in the suspension of your driver’s license and additional fines.

How the Melanson Law Office Can Help

DWI convictions can follow you for the rest of your life, even if it’s your first offense. Don’t take chances with your future. Hire the right attorney to represent you as soon as you have been arrested and/or charged with an offense.

At Melanson Law Office, I started my career working on the other side of the courtroom as a prosecution attorney. Now, I use that knowledge and experience to help defend my clients so that they can have the opportunity to avoid a DUI charge ruining their life.

If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense in Kingston, New York, or anywhere else in the Hudson Valley area, call my office immediately to schedule an appointment. I’ll be happy to discuss the details of your situation and outline how I can help you develop a strong legal strategy for your defense.


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