The penalties for DWI convictions in New York have become more and more severe over recent history. A first DWI offense is typically charged as a misdemeanor, unless there is some aggravating factor. This is a criminal charge that, if convicted, will give you a permanent criminal record. The conviction itself, and the accompanying criminal record, can often be the most significant and lasting penalty for an individual charged with a DWI, especially if you have no prior criminal history. Along with a permanent criminal record, an individual facing their first misdemeanor DWI conviction can be sentenced to a fine of between $500 and $1,000, mandatory state surcharges of $590, an alcohol abuse treatment program specifically geared toward DWI offenses, a license revocation of 6 months or 1 year, attending a Victim Impact Panel, the installation of an ignition interlock device in any car you own or ever operate, community service, probation or up to one year in jail.
If you are charged with a DWI, and it is alleged that you had a blood-alcohol content of .18% or more, or if it is alleged that you had a passenger in the car with you who was 15 years old or younger (Leandra’s Law) , you will likely still be charged with a misdemeanor, but the range of fines is greatly increased, your license will be revoked for the longer period of 1 year, and the District Attorney’s Office will generally be more inclined to seek jail time and/or probation as a component of the sentence.
If you are charged with a second DWI within 10 years of your first DWI conviction, it will be charged as an E felony that brings with it the possibility of up to 4 years in state prison, not to mention even greater fines up to $5,000. A third DWI in the same period is even more serious, and will be charged as a D felony with up to 7 years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Felony convictions bring with them even more stigma and long-term consequences, even beyond the sentence imposed by the judge. If you are charged with any crime, particularly a felony, it is imperative that you seek representation by an attorney who is experienced in defending individuals charged with DWI offenses in New York.
This blog entry is not an attempt to substitute for an examination of your particular case by your own criminal defense lawyer who will determine what is best for your case. Instead, this entry can give you the foundation to better understand criminal penalties for DWI offenses. To better understand these crimes, possible defenses, and how you can best protect yourself, consult with your criminal lawyer.