The State of New York takes alcohol and drug-impaired driving seriously, so it’s important to understand the consequences after you’ve been charged with a DWI on Long Island.
Here in New York, driving while intoxicated is a crime. But there are varying degrees of alcohol and drug-related charges, all with different charging criteria and penalties. What you are charged and convicted of will determine what your penalties are and what ultimately happens to your license. If you are facing a drunk driving charge, call for a free consultation with a top-rated Long Island DWI lawyer Jason Bassett today.
What Defines a DWI?
In New York State, being charged with a DWI means that you have been charged with operating a passenger vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher or exhibited other evidence that you were intoxicated. If you were driving a commercial vehicle, that drops to .04 blood alcohol level.
Other variations of DWI charges are:
● Aggravated DWI — driving with a blood-alcohol level of .18 or higher
● DWAI/Alcohol/Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol — driving with a blood-alcohol level of more than .05 but less than .07
● DWAI/Drug — impairment by a single drug other than alcohol
● DWAI/Combination — impairment by a combination of drugs or alcohol
Penalties for any drug or alcohol-related conviction include some loss of your driving privileges. You can be facing either a suspension of your driver’s license (your driving privileges are temporarily taken away for a period of time at the end of which you can get them back by paying a suspension termination fee) or a revocation of your driver’s license (your driving are completely taken away for a period of time after which you have to re-apply for a driver’s license, which includes re-taking the written and driving tests). For a DWI first offense, you face a revocation lasting 6 months. For any subsequent DWI within 10 years, the revocation lasts at least 18 months. Aggravated DWI carries a license revocation of 1 year with revocations of at least 18 months for a 2nd or 3rd Aggravated DWI within 10 years. For a first-time DWAI (Alcohol), there is a suspension for 90 days but for another DWAI within 10 years your driver’s license is revoked for at least 6 months.
Other penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can include fines, probation, and even jail time. Fines can run from a couple of hundred dollars to $10,000 depending on the charges. Those who have had several previous convictions can face up to 7 years in jail. Your charges and penalties will also depend on other variables such as your age and whether you cooperated with a breathalyzer or other chemical test.
The Other Long-Term Consequences of a DWI
DWI charges can follow you for a very long time. These charges not only affect you legally and affect your driving privileges, but DWI convictions can also present problems in your future employment searches or even in finding housing. Whenever someone does a background searches, criminal convictions such as a DWI will surface and may affect how potential employers or landlords see you.
Because DWI cases can be very complicated, you want the guidance of an experienced DWI lawyer with you from the very beginning. A good attorney will know the laws as they relate to a DWI stop, the rules surrounding a proper arrest, how to challenge the evidence and the strategies required for a good defense.
Penalties for DWI-Related Charges for CDL Holders
A person with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is not allowed to operate a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher. The penalties for people who are found to have violated this rule can be more severe compared to regular drivers. Additional punishments and penalties can include higher fines and permanent revocation of the driver’s license.
Other than the fines, a person convicted of refusing a chemical test is required to pay a minimum of $250 annual assessment fine. They will have to pay this fee for a total of 3 years as part of New York’s Driver Responsibility Program. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration handles all regulations and penalties for commercial vehicle drivers who are facing charges of DWI/DWAI in the United States.
New York’s Consent Law states that a CDL holder gives consent to have their blood, breath, urine, or saliva tested for alcohol or drugs when a police officer conducts a traffic stop.
A CDL holder who is facing their first DWI-related charge will be required to pay a $550 civil penalty for commercial drivers. They must pay this fee before they reapply for a driver’s license. Their license will also be revoked for 18 months.
|DWI-Related Charge||Possible Penalties for CDL Holders|
|Operating a commercial vehicle with BAC ≥ 0.04%||Higher fines; Permanent revocation of driver’s license|
|Refusing a chemical test||Minimum $250 annual assessment fine for 3 years (part of New York’s Driver Responsibility Program)|
|First DWI-related charge||$550 civil penalty for commercial drivers; License revocation for 18 months|
Is Your License Suspended Immediately After a DUI
If you find yourself involved in a DUI case, where you are accused of having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher at the time of arrest, you should expect an immediate suspension of your driver’s license. This suspension usually takes place at your arraignment, which is your first court appearance where you can enter a plea.
If you choose to plead guilty to the DUI charge, your license will be suspended, but the suspension will be delayed for 20 days. This 20-day grace period allows you to enroll in the Drinking Driver Program (DDP), now called the Impaired Driver Program (IDP). By participating in the DDP/IDP, you have the opportunity to apply for a conditional license. So, by admitting guilt for the DUI, you may not necessarily face a complete prohibition from driving for a certain period.
On the other hand, if you plead not guilty to the DUI, your license will be immediately suspended for 90 days. You do have the right to request a suspension review, known as a Pringle hearing. During this hearing, your attorney can challenge the suspension by questioning potential procedural errors made by law enforcement or disputing the accuracy of the BAC level. If the Pringle hearing does not result in your favor, you still have the option to apply for a hardship privilege license, although obtaining one and winning a Pringle hearing are typically challenging. Additionally, if none of these options succeed, you can apply for a conditional license after a 30-day waiting period from your arraignment or Pringle hearing.
Why You Need a Good Legal Defense for DWI Charges
There are many legal defenses available to a driver who has been charged with DWI in New York. A good lawyer will know which ones apply to your case, understand critical timelines, and how best to represent you given your charges.
Even if an acquittal is unlikely, he or she may be able to have charges reduced, argue for the minimum possible penalties, and help you apply for hardship driving privileges so you are able to get to and from work or school even if you are convicted.
If you have been charged with a DWI on Long Island, get the advice of a Suffolk County criminal defense attorney to understand your rights. Jason Bassett, Esq. has over 20 years of experience representing individuals who have been charged with a DWI on Long Island. Contact us to discuss your legal options and rights.