Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in the state of New York and carries some serious penalties, including a criminal record. One of the most common questions we get with clients who are charged with a DWI after a drinking and driving incident is, ‘can you go to jail for a DWI?’
The short answer is yes, there is always a possibility that your offense could land you in jail. However, the likelihood of that happening will depend on the exact circumstances around your DWI charge. Before you make any decisions about your case, it is important to speak with a highly rated Suffolk County DWI lawyer.
Penalties for DWI in NY
In the state of New York, the first DWI offense is considered a misdemeanor and under normal circumstances does not result in jail time. Subsequent offenses can be treated as felonies with more severe penalties.
That being said, under state law in New York any DWI conviction can result in jail time, regardless of the number of offenses committed.
The maximum jail time for DWI offenses in New York can be broken down as follows:
- 1st offense: Up to one year in jail
- 2nd offense within 10 years: Up to four years in jail
- 3rd offense within 10 years: Up to seven years in jail
As indicated above, the time between offenses will also play a part in the severity of your potential penalties. When there are multiple DWI offenses within a 10 year span, it becomes far more likely a defendant will receive a lengthy jail sentence.
Factors that determine jail time
When determining if jail time is an appropriate penalty for a DWI conviction, the judge will look at a variety of factors.
One of the major factors a judge will evaluate is the question: Is this a first offense or a repeated DWI conviction? In New York, a first time DWI offense usually does not result in any jail time (other than the time spent in custody between the arrest and the arraignment). Although subsequent offenses do have a greater likelihood for jail time, several other factors are also considered by the courts.
One factor that plays a major role in the length of your potential jail sentence is your blood alcohol content.
When your blood alcohol content (BAC) was below .08 percent, you’ll likely be charged with a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired), which carries comparatively lighter penalties. Driving with a BAC that is greater than .08 and less than .18 percent is considered a DWI. Those who blow greater than .18 percent will be charged with Aggravated DWI, which is an even more serious crime and could lead to a higher chance of you landing in jail.
The courts look at additional factors before deciding on a possible jail sentence. These include the presence of passengers in the vehicle at the time of the offense, if injuries were sustained and their severity, and if children were involved.
Hiring A Top First Time DWI Lawyer In Suffolk County
Jail time is not inevitable in a DWI conviction. A court will consider many factors before making a decision on every case. Having the right criminal defense attorney by your side can greatly reduce the chance of you serving any jail time for your first DWI offense or a subsequent offense. Anyone who is facing charges of Driving While Intoxicated of Driving Under the Influence should seek the legal advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you are faced with a DWI offense and feel anxious about potential jail time, reach out to Jason Bassett and his team for a free initial consultation. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (631) 259-6060 today.