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Understanding penalties for drunk driving charges in New York

During the holidays, there is a concern for alcohol-related accidents. Due to this, most states initiate enforcement campaigns to reduce drunk driving. Drivers in New York should understand the law regarding these traffic stops as well as the potential penalties they could face. This information could help them strategize a defense against a drunk driving charge.

Being charged with a DWI could carry different consequences and the details of the alleged offense and the driver's criminal background will determine this. For example, the level of impairment could affect the type of charge the driver faces. Impairment is dependent on five conditions: the amount of alcohol consumed, the amount of food eaten prior to and during alcohol consumption, the length of time alcohol was consumes, the weight of the driver and their gender.

A DWI could result if the driver has a blood alcohol content or BAC of .08 or higher. For drivers of commercial motor vehicles, a DWI could result for a BAC of .04 or higher. The carries a fine ranging between $500 and $1,000 and could result in up to one year in jail and a license revocation of at least six months.

An aggravated DWI charge results when the driver has a BAC of .18 or higher. For the first offense, this carries a mandatory fine that ranges between $1,000 and $2,500. In addition, the driver could face one year in jail and at least one year of license revocation. For the second conviction, the penalties increase to up $5,000 in fines and up to four years in jail with at least 18 months of driver's license revocation.

While the legal limit in New York is set at .08, a driver could still face charges with their BAC below that level. For example, a driving while ability impaired by alcohol or DWAI/Alcohol could result when the driver's BAC is more than .05 but less than .07. Such a charge could result in a fine for up to $500, 15 days in jail and a driver's license suspension for 90 days.

Because the consequences of these types of drunk driving charges, drivers should be aware of their rights and legal defense options. Whether they make a defense against the charge or make a plea bargain, defendants should understand how the results could impact their life. A strong defense could help the driver reduce or dismiss the charges against them, so it is important to take action and initiate their defense in a timely manner.

Source: Dmv.ny.gov, "Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations," accessed on Dec. 2, 2014

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