Basic DWI charges are misdemeanor-level offenses. This means that the issue is a criminal level offense. Still, the potential consequences of a conviction are serious.

According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Code §1193, the penalties for a first-time alcohol DWI or DWAI-Drugs offense can include:

  • A fine of between $500 and $1,000
  • A potential jail term of up to one year
  • A mandatory six-month loss of license

DWI, DWAI, and Aggravated DWI

Most people understand DWI to mean drunk driving. This is certainly one of the definitions provided in New York law. Any person driving a car with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08 percent is guilty of Driving While Intoxicated. But New York’s DWI law is far more expansive.

DWI Charges

New York Vehicle and Traffic Code §1192 provides that a person can also face DWI charges if they operate a vehicle while under the influence of a drug. This can include both street drugs and prescription medications. It is also not necessary for a person to fail a breath or blood test to face these charges. An officer can make an arrest based solely on their observations of the driver.

DWAI Charges

However, the police legally have the right to insist that all drivers submit to a BAC test if the officer suspects that the driver is drunk. A refusal to submit to this test is a violation on its own that can automatically result in fines and a license suspension.

If a BAC test comes back between .05 and .07 percent, a driver faces charges of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). These charges are somewhat less severe than DWI charges but can still be detrimental to a person’s life.

Aggravated DUI Charges

On the other hand, if a test indicates a BAC level of .18 percent or above, a driver can face charges for an Aggravated DWI. An Aggravated DWI charge is a much more serious version of DWI and is defined under New York Vehicle and Traffic Code §1192-2a(a). An Aggravated DWI conviction carries much harsher penalties and will count as a mark on a person’s criminal record.

An Albany DWI Lawyer Can Defend Your Rights

New York’s DWI laws are somewhat forgiving for a first-time alcohol offender. Still, a conviction can result in a jail term and require a three-month loss of license as well as heavy fines.

When someone faces DWI charges for a second time or more, or because of the use of drugs, the penalties become much more severe and almost certainly result in a jail sentence if convicted.

The Albany DWI lawyers at Tully Rinckey work hard to prevent this outcome for those we represent. Our attorneys can aggressively fight charges by analyzing the actions of the arresting officer, combating the results of any breath or blood tests, and defending the rights of the accused at trial. If you are facing DWI charges, contact our legal team today to schedule your no-cost consultation by calling 888-529-4543 or emailing

Case Consultations