Drivers who take to the roads in New York while intoxicated may find themselves facing criminal charges. The Empire State’s laws against drunk driving are tough, and the sentencing may become even harsher depending on specific factors. Several items could contribute to a driver facing enhanced DUI charges. When the charges become worse, expect possible penalties to be correspondingly stricter.

The legal penalties for DWI in New York

A person driving a noncommercial vehicle could face DWI charges in New York when blood alcohol content reaches 0.08. However, the charge increases to Aggravated DWI when the BAC hits 0.18 and above. A first-time AGG DWI comes with a fine and a possible jail term of one year. Fine and jail term maximums increase for each additional conviction within 10 years. Second and third AGG DWI convictions rise to the level of a felony. An intoxicated driver who refuses to take a breathalyzer test or registers an extremely high BAC may face severe penalties .

DUI incidents and additional criminal charges

Upon pulling a vehicle over, the police may learn that the driver has a suspended license or does not have auto insurance. Criminal charges may follow. A police officer may have probable cause to search the vehicle such as smelling marijuana or seeing drug paraphernalia. If a subsequent search leads to the discovery of illegal drugs or firearms, yet more charges are likely to result.

An intoxicated driver has difficulty safely operating a vehicle. Such a driver may face criminal reckless driving charges based on what happened on the road. If the driver causes an accident, charges may stem from any property damage or injuries inflicted on others. Sadly, someone could die from injuries suffered in an accident, and the person responsible might face very serious consequence.

In New York, a person operating a vehicle while intoxicated might face DUI and other charges. In such instances, an attorney could work on a defense strategy or plea bargain agreement. Of course, all persons accused of crimes have rights, and they are legally innocent until proven guilty.



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