New York DUI Laws

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New York DUI laws state that anyone who is driving with a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above can be charged with a DWI, or “driving while intoxicated.” Anyone under 21 can be charged if their BAC is higher than 0.02%. For commercial drivers, it’s 0.04%.
Each year, over 10,000 people in the US are killed on the road as a result of drunk driving crashes.
Operating a vehicle while under the influence of substances like alcohol or drugs is a dangerous crime. New York has an incredibly complex system for penalizing offenders. Even a first-time offense could cost the driver up to $10,000 in legal fees and fines. A DWI in New York will most certainly impact your car insurance rates, too.
Here’s what you need to know about the New York DUI law, compiled by Jerry, the car insurance comparison and broker app.
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What is a DUI?

DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence. Some states use other acronyms to mean the same thing, like OWI (operating while intoxicated) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). New York uses DWI.
A New York driver can be charged with a DWI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes legal drugs like prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.
Not all states have as complex laws as New York. In the Empire State, you can be charged for a variety of DWI charges, depending on your situation: DWI, alcohol-DWAI (driving while ability impaired), drug-DWAI, combination-DWAI, and aggravated DWI.

DWI in New York

In New York, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of:
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re 21 or older
  • 0.04% or higher if you hold a commercial driver’s license
  • 0.02% or higher if you’re under the age of 21
A DWI charge will be mounted against you if you are found to be impaired to a “substantial extent” according to the BAC levels listed above.
If you are affected to any extent by alcohol, you will be charged with an alcohol-DWAI. If drug use is impairing your ability to drive as a “reasonable and prudent person,” you will be charged with a drug-DWAI. If you are in any way impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol while behind the wheel, you will be charged with a combination-DWAI.
An aggravated DWI is defined as operating a vehicle with a BAC of .18% or higher or driving under the influence with a passenger 15 years old or younger.
Additionally, there is zero tolerance for minors driving under the influence. People under the age of 21 may not carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless a parent is present and the container is unopened, full, and sealed.
Every state has an implied consent law, which says you consent to be tested if an officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you are lawfully arrested for a DUI in New York, you are required to submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. You do not have the right to consult with legal counsel before taking the test.
New York drivers who unlawfully refuse a chemical test can be penalized with a fine of $500 (for a first refusal) and revocation of their license for one year. For subsequent refusals, the fee and suspension period increase—even more notably if you already have a conviction on record.
Underage drivers who refuse to take the chemical test are in violation of the Zero Tolerance Law. They must pay a $300 civil penalty and a $100 re-application fee to regain their license after a minimum one-year suspension.
If you refuse the test three or more times in 10 years in New York, your license could be permanently revoked.

Penalties for a DWI in New York

Penalties for DWIs are very stringent in New York. The conviction will remain on your driving record for between four to 25 years, depending on the circumstances.

First conviction

In New York, a first offense for a driver 21 and older could result in the following penalties. Note, penalties vary depending on the specific charge (i.e., alcohol-DWAI vs. drug-DWAI).
PenaltyDWAIDWAI-DrugDWAI-CombinationAGG DWI
Fine$300 to $500$500 to $1,000$500 to $1,000$1,000 to $2,500
JailUp to 15 daysOne yearOne yearOne year
License suspensionThree months minimumSix months minimumSix months minimumOne year minimum
Vehicle impoundmentPossiblePossiblePossiblePossible
SR-22 requirementNoNoNoNo
Ignition interlock deviceYesYesYesYes
First and second convictions (within five years) in New York for alcohol-DWAIs are considered infractions. A third conviction (within 10 years) for an alcohol-DWAI is considered a misdemeanor. DWIs, drug-DWAIs, and combination-DWAIs are misdemeanors for first offenses. Any second and third convictions in this category within 10 years are considered felonies.
Note that you may need to pay additional surcharges for alcohol-related misdemeanors ($260) and felonies ($400), but the exact amount will vary depending on the court in which you’re convicted.
Finally, the state of New York can require you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle after a first offense. This device will prevent you from starting the car if there is any alcohol on your breath.
Underage motorists who break the Zero Tolerance Law in New York could face the following consequences:
Fine$125 civil penalty plus $100 to terminate license suspension
License suspensionSix months (first-offense); one year or until age 21 (second-offense)
Vehicle impoundmentPossible
SR-22 requirementNo
Ignition interlock devicePossible

Subsequent convictions

If you are convicted of a DWI more than once in New York, you will be subject to increased penalties. Drivers who rack up multiple violations within a 25-year period will face even stricter consequences.
PenaltyDWAIDWAI-DrugDWAI-CombinationAGG DWI
Fine$500 to $1,500$1,000 to $10,000$1,000 to $10,000$1,000 to $10,000
JailUp to 180 daysFour to seven yearsFour to seven yearsFour to seven years
License suspensionSix months minimumOne year minimumOne year minimum18 months to permanent
Vehicle impoundmentYesYesYesYes
SR-22 requirementNoNoNoNo
Ignition interlock deviceOne year minimum
If you commit three or more offenses within 10 years, you could face permanent license revocation in New York. You may request a waiver after a minimum of five years.
Be aware that second offenses for DWI, DWAI-drug, DWAI-combination, and AGG DWI within 10 years are considered a Class E felony. Third offenses (within a 15-year period) are considered a Class D felony by the state of New York—and usually receive jail time.
Key Takeaway Minimum penalties are usually increased if you had a very high blood alcohol concentration or if you were involved in an accident where someone was injured—even for a first conviction.

Hardship license

Many states offer hardship licenses so that convicted drivers may still drive to and from essential appointments and work. In some circumstances, New York drivers may qualify. There must be five years between your DUI conviction and your application for a hardship license.
To qualify for a hardship license in New York:
  • There must be no other licensed drivers in your household.
  • There must be limited access to public transportation.
  • You must install an IID on your vehicle.
  • You must agree only to drive vehicles with an IID.
  • If your job requires you to drive a vehicle without an IID, your employer must be informed and give their consent in the form of a letter submitted to the court.
You will not be eligible for a hardship license if you refused testing or if you caused a vehicular homicide.
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Does a DWI impact car insurance in New York?

Yes, insurance companies do not look kindly on DUI and DWI convictions. You will be classified as a high-risk driver for insurance purposes. New York does not require SR-22 insurance, but a conviction will raise your premium substantially.
You may struggle to find insurance in New York with a DWI on record. The best strategy is to shop around. Get the Jerry app to help you compare rates from up to 50 top insurance companies. It only takes 60 seconds and it’s all done in the app—no phone calls, no lengthy forms.

Other effects of a DWI

In addition to fees and higher insurance rates, you could face additional consequences due to a DWI conviction.
License revocation: After a DWI or DUI charge, you will probably have your license revoked or suspended.
Ignition interlock device: Every state has a version of the ignition interlock program. This requires drivers with a DWI conviction to install an IID in their vehicle, which can disable your engine if any alcohol is detected on your breath.
Background checks: A DWI will appear on your background check for several years. This means that your criminal charge will be visible to any employer who pulls your record until the lookback period expires.

How to find cheap insurance after a DWI

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