What Is a Misdemeanor DWI in New York City?

car keys with a glass of alcohol

An arrest for driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is typically a frightening experience. Once the actual arrest and booking is over with most people start to worry about the ultimate outcome of the case against them. Specifically, people begin to worry about what their punishment will be if convicted of the charges against them. In order to know what punishment you are facing though you first need to know exactly what charges you are facing. Misdemeanor DWI and felony DWI, for example, do not include the same potential penalties.

In the State of New York the law actually allows for a variety of criminal offenses that are related to drinking and driving. The offense of "Driving While Intoxicated", or DWI, as well as the offense of "Driving While Impaired by a Drug", or DWAI – Drug, are both misdemeanors in New York. Both offenses carry up to a maximum of one year in jail, up to a six month driver's license suspension or revocation, and/or up to a $1,000 fine. For a defendant to be convicted of misdemeanor DWI the State of New York must show that the defendant was driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater or that the defendant was driving  "while the person's ability to operate such  motor  vehicle  is impaired by the consumption of alcohol." New York also has several other alcohol and/or drug related offenses that are charged as misdemeanors, including:

  • Driving while ability impaired by alcohol
  • Driving while ability impaired by a combination of drugs/alcohol
  • Zero tolerance law

In New York, the alcohol related driving offenses typically increase to a felony when one of two things occurs. The first is when the driver has a BAC level that is exceptionally higher (0.18 percent) than the legal limit. The second scenario relates to a defendant's previous criminal history. For most alcohol related driving offenses the second (and subsequent) charge within a ten year period will result in being charged at the felony level instead of the misdemeanor level, regardless of the driver's BAC level.

If you have recently been arrested and charged with an alcohol related driving offense in New York City it is imperative that you understand the charges filed against you as well as the potential penalties you face if convicted. Consult with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney right away to evaluate your case and get started on your defense. Contact the Law Offices of Adam Thompson today by calling (212)267-2424 to schedule your appointment.