Not all DWI charges are created equal. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, as well as your prior record, the penalties for a conviction could range from a fine and temporary loss of your driver’s license to years in prison and a felony record.
For instance, if you have no prior criminal record, a conviction for standard DWI in New York will cost you between $500-$1,000 in fines, and the judge will revoke your driver’s license for at least six months. There is a potential jail sentence of up to one year, though that is relatively unlikely. However, a second DWI conviction within ten years is an E felony with a potential prison sentence of up to four years, a fine of up to $5,000, and a revoked license for at least a year.
Above standard DWI is Aggravated DWI, or driving with a blood-alcohol level of .18 or higher. A first-time conviction will cost you your license for a year, and force you to pay a fine of $1,000-$2,500. As with standard DWI, a second conviction for Aggravated DWI within a decade is an E felony, with similar potential penalties, except that your license could be revoked for at least 18 months.
Driving While Ability Impaired
Note that New York also has a Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) law for drivers with a BAL below the standard legal limit of .08. If the police claim your BAL is between .04 and .07, or that you show “signs of impairment,” you can still be charged with a crime. A first conviction for DWAI can result in up to 15 days in jail, a 90-day license suspension and a $300-$500 fine.
If you are unclear what exactly you have been charged with, your defense attorney will explain it to you. They will also help you confront the charges and seek a way to get them reduced or even dismissed.