You decided to go out for happy hour with your friends or co-workers after a long, tough week. You are more than ready to have some beers or a few of your favorite mixed drinks. However, on your way home, you accidently run through a stop sign and police pull you over. Before you know it, your facing drunk driving charges for the first time. What will the consequences of your first-time DWI conviction be?


In New York, you will face tougher consequences with DWI charges, where your blood alcohol level is .08. These include the following:

  • A mandatory $500-$1,000 fine
  • A maximum one-year jail term
  • A mandatory six-month license suspension

For drivers who register blood alcohol levels of .05 to .07, they can face DWAI charges in New York. The penalties for a first-time DWAI charge (without the evidence of drug use) are:

  • A mandatory $300-500 fine
  • A maximum 15-day jail term
  • A mandatory 90-day license suspension

Zero tolerance laws for those under 21

If you are under the age of 21 and police pull you over for drunk driving, you are subject to New York’s zero tolerance laws. So, if you have a .02 to .07 blood alcohol content, you will have to pay a $125 fine and $100 to terminate your license suspension for a first-time offense. You won’t face jail time, but your driver’s license suspension will be six months.

An aggravated DWI

No matter what age you are, if you have an alcohol level of .18 BAC (more than twice the legal limit), you will face aggravated DWI charges. For a first-time DWI offense, penalties include the following:

  • A mandatory $1,000-2,500 fine
  • A maximum one-year jail term
  • A mandatory one-year license suspension

A first-time DWI conviction has other consequences too. Your insurance rates will go up and your DWI will be on your criminal record. It will show up on background checks for future employers and may limit your ability to obtain certain jobs or job training.

It’s always best to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney when facing drunk driving charges. You want to have someone stand up for your rights and investigate if you could have your charges reduced or dismissed, reducing the penalties you’ll face.







James Auricchio was admitted to the practice of Law in 2001. He entered private practice in 2010 after earning distinction as a State and Federal Prosecutor.

Named to the list of Superlawyers, in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024, a distinction awarded to less than 5 percent of all attorneys in New York State