Long Island, New York Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated/Driving Under the Influence

Last updated on February 2, 2024

The different charges and penalties for DWI on Long Island can quickly get confusing. It is crucial to understand the type of charge you might be facing in order to properly build an effective legal strategy. Getting the help of an experienced Long Island DWI/DUI attorney is essential in understanding your rights under the law. 

Under New York laws, penalties for drunk driving can vary depending on the defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Your charges can differ depending on the results of the chemical test. However, a law enforcement officer declaring that you are in an intoxicated or impaired state can already be enough cause for you to be charged with an impaired driving offense.

Alcohol-Driving While Ability Impaired

A person may be held guilty of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) if they operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of more than .05% but less than .07% BAC or if an officer declares their driving ability as impaired.

Defendants convicted of a DWAI are also subject to the following additional penalties to be accomplished for each offense they were convicted of:

  • Submitting to an alcohol and drug screening, assessment, and treatment program
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Taking a driver responsibility assessment of $250 annually for three years.

Should a defendant fail to complete these additional penalties, they may be subject to probation violations and additional license suspensions which can remain in effect until the penalties are followed.

Regardless of the instance of offense, provided that repeat convictions do not happen within 5 years, if a defendant does not refuse a chemical test and submits documentation of completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, they may be able to apply and be granted a conditional license. This conditional license will let them drive while their license is suspended pending a DMV hearing.

First Offense

A conviction for a first offense of Alcohol-DWAI is not considered a criminal conviction but rather a traffic infraction. Compared to a DWI, Drugs-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI which are misdemeanor crimes, a first-offense conviction of Alcohol-DWAI carries less severe penalties.

  • A fine of $300 to $500 
  • A maximum of 15 days in jail
  • Mandatory license suspension for 90 days.
  • Additional administrative fees in the town or county where the offense occurred

Second Offense

A conviction for a second offense of Alcohol-DWAI is not considered a criminal conviction but rather a traffic infraction. However, penalties can be more severe if the defendant has been convicted of an impaired driving offense in the last five years. 

A defendant who has been convicted of an Alcohol-DWAI who has already been convicted of one DWI or DWAI charge within the past five years is subject to the following penalties:

  • A fine of $500 to $750 
  • A maximum of 30 days in jail
  • Mandatory license suspension for six months
  • Additional administrative fees in the town or county where the offense occurred

A defendant who is convicted of a second-offense DWAI within five years of being convicted of an impaired driving offense is not eligible for a conditional license. The DMV also imposes a $750 penalty for those who have had their license revoked for refusing a chemical test or have been convicted of a second impaired driving charge. This penalty is in addition to a license revocation for 1.5 years.

Third and Subsequent Offenses

A conviction for a third offense of Alcohol-DWAI is a misdemeanor. Penalties can be more severe if a defendant has been convicted of two impaired driving offenses within the last ten years.

A defendant who has been convicted of an Alcohol-DWAI who has already been convicted of two DWI or DWAI charges within the past ten years is subject to the following penalties:

  • A fine of $750 to $1,500 
  • A maximum of 180 days in jail
  • Mandatory license suspension for six months
  • Additional administrative fees in the town or county where the offense occurred

A defendant who is convicted of a third-offense DWAI within five years of being convicted of two impaired driving offenses is not eligible for a conditional license. The DMV also imposes a $750 penalty for those who have had their license revoked for refusing a chemical test or have been convicted of a prior impaired driving charge. This penalty is in addition to a license revocation for 1.5 years.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Drug-DWAI, Combination-DWAI 

A person may be held guilty of Driving While Intoxicated if they operate a motor vehicle and if:

  • They test for a BAC of .08% or more
  • They are declared to be in an “intoxicated condition

The BAC requirement is different for commercial drivers and drivers under 21 years of age being .04% and .02% respectively.

A person may be held guilty of a Drug-DWAI if they operated a motor vehicle and if:

  • They test positive on a chemical test for a controlled substance under New York State Public Health Law 3306.
  • The effects of the controlled substance are proven to have hindered or impaired their ability to drive judiciously

A person may be held guilty of a Combination-DWAI if they operated a motor vehicle and if:

  • They test positive on a chemical test for both alcohol and a controlled substance of a combination of controlled substances under New York State Public Health Law 3306.
  • The effects of alcohol and controlled substance or the combination of the controlled substances are proven to have hindered or impaired their ability to drive judiciously

The court can suspend a defendant’s license under the following circumstances:

  • If the defendant is found to have a BAC of .08% or higher
  • If the defendant refused to take a chemical test 

If the refusal is confirmed at the DMV hearing, the defendant’s driver’s license can be revoked for up to a year and they will be required to pay a $500 civil penalty for the first offense and $750 for subsequent offenses.

Defendants convicted of a DWI, Drug-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI are also subject to the following additional penalties to be accomplished for each offense they were convicted of:

  • Submitting to an alcohol and drug screening, assessment, and treatment program
  • Attending a victim impact program
  • Taking a driver responsibility assessment of $250 annually for three years.
  • Installation and maintenance of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle that the defendant owns or operates. The duration of the IID requirement depends on the circumstances of the case and the determination of the judge.

Should a defendant fail to complete these additional penalties, they may be subject to probation violations and additional license suspensions which can remain in effect until the penalties are followed.

Regardless of the instance of offense, provided that repeat convictions do not happen within 5 years, if a defendant does not refuse a chemical test and submits documentation of completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, they may be able to apply and be granted a conditional license. This conditional license will let them drive while their license is suspended pending a DMV hearing.

First Offense

The first-offense conviction of a DWI, Drugs-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI is considered a misdemeanor crime. In addition, a defendant may be subject to the following penalties:

  • A fine of $500 to $1,000 and/or a maximum of one year in jail
  • Mandatory license revocation for six months
  • Additional administrative fees in the town or county where the offense occurred
  • Installation and maintenance of an IID for a minimum of six months to a year

Second Offense

A conviction for a second offense of a DWI, Drugs-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI within ten years is considered a class E felony. In addition, a defendant may be subject to the following penalties

  • A fine of $1,000 to $5,000 and/or one to four years in jail
    • An additional minimum mandatory sentence of five days in jail if the second DWI conviction is within five years of the first conviction, or
    • 30 days of community service for a public or nonprofit organization
  • Mandatory license revocation of one year
  • Additional administrative fees in the town or county where the offense occurred
  • Installation and maintenance of an IID for the duration of the license revocation period and for an additional period as determined by the judge

A defendant who is convicted of a second-offense DWI, Drugs-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI within five years of being convicted of an impaired driving offense is not eligible for a conditional license. The DMV also imposes a $750 penalty for those who have had their license revoked for refusing a chemical test or have been convicted of a prior impaired driving charge. This penalty is in addition to a license revocation for 1.5 years.

Third and Subsequent Offenses

A conviction for a third offense of a DWI, Drugs-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI within ten years is considered a class D felony. In addition, a defendant may be subject to the following penalties

  • A fine of $2,000 to $10,000 and/or one to seven years in jail
    • An additional minimum mandatory sentence of ten days in jail if the second DWI conviction is within five years of the first conviction, or
    • 60 days of community service for a public or nonprofit organization
  • Additional administrative fees in the town or county where the offense occurred
  • Installation and maintenance of an IID for the duration of the license revocation period and for an additional period as determined by the judge

License Revocation: A defendant who has had three impaired driving convictions, chemical test refusals, or a combination of convictions and refusals within a four-year period is subject to permanent license revocation. The DMV can allow the defendant to reapply for a license after five years if:

  • The defendant does not refuse a chemical test during the five-year period when their license was revoked
  • The defendant is not convicted of any additional DWI or DWAI offenses during the five-year period
  • The defendant submits documentation of completion of a rehabilitation program

A defendant can also obtain a conditional license after a mandatory three-year revocation period.

A defendant who is convicted of a third-offense DWI, Drugs-DWAI, or Combination-DWAI within five years of being convicted of an impaired driving offense is not eligible for a conditional license. The DMV also imposes a $750 penalty for those who have had their license revoked for refusing a chemical test or have been convicted of a prior impaired driving charge.

Degree Type BAC or Drug Test Result Penalties
Driving While Intoxicated BAC ≥ 0.08% (commercial: ≥ 0.04%) Suspension of driver’s license, Possible civil penalty for refusal, Additional penalties as required
Drug-DWAI Positive drug test for controlled substance Suspension of driver’s license, Possible civil penalty for refusal, Additional penalties as required
Combination-DWAI Positive tests for both alcohol and controlled substance Suspension of driver’s license, Possible civil penalty for refusal, Additional penalties as required

Leandra’s Law and Its Impact

Leandra’s Law has had a profound impact on New York State’s approach to combating drunk driving, especially when it endangers children. Officially known as the “Child Passenger Protection Act,” this legislation was enacted in 2009 following the tragic death of 11-year-old Leandra Rosado in a drunk-driving related accident. The law underscores New York’s commitment to being one of the strictest states in the nation regarding DWI/DUI offenses.

The cornerstone of Leandra’s Law is the creation of a new class E felony offense for driving under the influence with a child aged 15 or younger in the vehicle. Statistically, the law has shown its teeth — between 2009 and 2014, Suffolk County led the state with 384 arrests under the law. Nassau County also registered a significant number of arrests, ranking fifth with 185 over the same period. These numbers reflect a determined enforcement of the law; however, they also highlight a persistent issue of individuals driving while intoxicated with minors present, signaling a continued need for public awareness and education.

Additionally, the law mandates the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for all convicted individuals, adding a preventive layer to stop repeat offenses. This requirement places New York among the few states that impose such a condition on first-time DWI offenders. The device is a critical component in ensuring that those convicted do not reoffend, thereby protecting not just children but all road users.

Leandra’s Law also necessitates that any violation involving a child passenger must be reported to the New York State Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline, ensuring that child welfare agencies are involved in safeguarding the affected children.

The penalties under Leandra’s Law are severe, with prison sentences, fines, and mandatory probation reflecting the gravity of the offense. For instance, causing death or serious injury to a child passenger under the influence can lead to imprisonment of up to 25 years.

Schedule a Consultation with Experienced Long Island DUI/DWI Attorney Jason Bassett Today

Being charged with an impaired driving offense on Long Island can result in an inconvenience at best and significant financial and professional repercussions at worst. It is important to get the help of a skilled Nassau County or Suffolk County DUI/DWI attorney before making a decision.

Jason Bassett, a top-rated Long Island DUI/DWI attorney, has provided aggressive legal representation to residents of Nassau County and Suffolk County who have been charged with drunk driving offenses. Jason Bassett can assist in building a strong legal defense against your charges and in representing your rights. Contact The Law Offices of Jason Bassett today at (631) 259-6060 to schedule a free consultation.

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