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3 Factors That Can Enhance Sentencing for DWI in New York

Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is a very common charge that gets thousands of New Yorkers arrested each year.  Even though the charge is common, it shouldn’t be taken lightly, as the penalties for drugged or drunk driving can be quite severe.  Sentencing can be especially harsh if certain circumstances were involved in the offense.

What is the Fine, License Suspension, and Jail Sentence for DWI in NYC?

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DWI, which in most other states is called DUI or driving under the influence, is generally an “unclassified” misdemeanor in New York.  The consequences of unclassified misdemeanors vary from crime to crime, so one must look to the appropriate statute – in this case, NY Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1193 – in order to see the penalties (“sanctions”).

Under NY Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1193(b)(i), “A violation of subdivision… three… of section 1192 of this article” – in other words, DWI – is an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by:

  • A fine ranging from $500 to $1,000
  • A jail sentence of up to one year

Additionally, the defendant’s driver’s license will be temporarily revoked for a period of at least six months.  Driving without a license is a crime, so it is crucial that you use public transit or other means of transportation – or obtain a temporary conditional license, which will allow you to travel to and from designated locations such as work, school, and the DMV – if your license is revoked or suspended for driving while intoxicated.

Though harsh and disruptive, these are merely the standard penalties for DWI with no additional or aggravating factors.  If the DWI involved certain facts or situations, these penalties can increase substantially.

3 Factors That Increase the Penalties for Intoxicated Driving in New York

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There are several factors that can cause DWI penalties to increase.  These factors include, but are not limited to, the following.

  1. You have prior offenses.  In some cases, a skilled defense attorney can successfully argue for a more lenient sentence if the defendant has a clean criminal record and his or her offense appears to be an isolated incident.  However, courts tend to be less sympathetic toward defendants who repeatedly commit the same offense over and over, which is reflected in the way repeat offenses are classified – and punished.While a first-offense DWI is a misdemeanor, a second DWI within 10 years of the first is a Class E felony; and a third DWI within 10 years of the first is a Class D felony, which is even more serious.  While the maximum jail sentence for a first-time DWI in New York is one year – already a long time to spend behind bars – the maximum sentence for a felony is even longer, by a wide margin: up to four years for a Class E felony, and up to seven years for a Class D felony.The fines and license suspension can also increase substantially.  While the fine for a first-offense DWI is limited to $1,000 (notwithstanding assorted fees and restitution), the fine for a second DWI within 10 years can be as high as $5,000, while the fine for a third DWI within 10 years can skyrocket to $10,000.  Likewise, your license will be revoked for at least one year, rather than “just” six months.
  2. You had a high BAC.  Your BAC is your blood alcohol content.  A BAC of 0.08% is sufficient to trigger DWI charges; but if your BAC is 0.18% or higher, you have committed not DWI, but aggravated DWI, which is a more serious offense.Aggravated DWI from having a high BAC, which is what NY Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1193(b)(i) means when it describes a “violation of paragraph (a) of subdivision 2-a of section 1192,” is a misdemeanor.  However, the maximum fine increases to $2,500 – a full $1,500 more than the maximum fine for first-offense, non-aggravated DWI.
  3. You had a passenger age 15 or youngerIn 2009, then-Governor Paterson signed “Leandra’s Law,” a child passenger safety law commemorating 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed by a drunk driver on the Henry Hudson Parkway.  Like having a high BAC, breaking Leandra’s Law is another form of aggravated DWI under NY Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192(2-a)(b).A Leandra’s Law violation – or, as the statute describes it, a “violation of paragraph (b) of subdivision 2-a of section 1192” – is a Class E felony.  The fine may be as high as $5,000, and the prison sentence may be up to four years.

New York Defense Lawyer Handling DUI and Drugged Driving Charges

DWI is a serious matter that demands urgent attention and proactive planning.  If you or someone you love was arrested for drunk driving in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, or Queens, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.  There are many ways to fight a DWI charge, but the first step is seeking immediate assistance.  If you need help with intoxicated driving charges, call a New York criminal defense lawyer of the law offices of New York DUI lawyer Seth Koslow at (347) 561-0025 for a free legal consultation today.

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