Wooden table with a glass of liquor and a set of car keys next to it

If you have been arrested for DWI in Nassau, Suffolk County, or New York City, working with an experienced DWI attorney is essential. At Michael A. Arbeit, P.C., we have extensive experience successfully defending DWI/DWAI cases. Whether this is your first offense or you have prior DWI convictions, we will work to protect your rights and driving privileges. Contact our Long Island office today to learn how we can help. 

About DWI Laws in New York

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) means operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher; driving with a BAC of .18 or higher is considered an Aggravated DWI. The BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04, and there is zero tolerance for DWI by minors – the BAC limit for drivers under 21 is .02. 

Notably, a breathalyzer or chemical test is not the sole basis for a DWI charge. You can be arrested based on the observations of law enforcement about your driving, appearance, behavior, the odor of alcohol, or an open container in the vehicle. 

In addition, you can be charged with DWAI (driving while ability impaired) for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .05 to .07 or any detectable alcohol in your system that impairs your ability to drive. You may also face DWAI charges for driving while impaired by a drug, whether street drugs or prescription medication (DWAI-Drug). Finally, driving while impaired by combined alcohol and drugs is a criminal offense that can result in jail time or a prison sentence. 

DWI Penalties in New York

DWI penalties depend on your BAC level and whether you have prior convictions.

A first-offense DWI is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Maximum fine of $1,000
  • Minimum 6-month license revocation
  • Mandatory state surcharge of $400
  • 3-year driver responsibility assessment
  • Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock device for no less than 6 months

Being convicted of a second DWI offense within 10 years is a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison, fines up to $5,000, and a minimum 1-year license revocation.

DWAI Penalties

A first-offense DWAI is a traffic infraction punishable by:

  • Up to 15 days in jail
  • Maximum fine of $500
  • 90-day license suspension

A second DWAI infraction within 5 years can result in a 30-day jail sentence, fines up to $750, and minimum 6-month license revocation.

A first-offense DWAI-Drug is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000
  • Minimum 6-month license suspension 

A second DWAI-Drug offense within 10 years is a felony punishable by a 1-year jail sentence, a maximum fine of $5,000, and a minimum 1-year license revocation. 

A first-offense DWAI-Combined is a misdemeanor punishable by: 

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Maximum fine of $1,000
  • Minimum 6-month license revocation

A second DWAI-Combined offense is a Class E felony that can result in a 4-year jail sentence, fines up to $5,000, and a minimum 1-year license revocation.

Leandra’s Law (Drunk Driving with a Minor)

A parent or guardian who drives drunk while traveling with a passenger 15 years of age or younger will face an Aggravated DWI with a Child Passenger charge, no matter if it is a first offense. This felony offense is punishable by up to 4 years in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000. The charges will be elevated if a child is injured or killed in a DWI accident. 

What is The Implied Consent Rule?

Anyone who holds a driver’s license is subject to New York’s implied consent rule. This means you have agreed to submit to a chemical test of your BAC if requested by law enforcement. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, the Department of Motor Vehicles will schedule a Refusal Hearing – an administrative proceeding separate from the criminal proceeding. Your license will be automatically suspended until the hearing date and may be revoked for 1-year. Having an experienced DWI attorney represent you at the Refusal Hearing is the best way to protect your driving privileges while the criminal case is pending. 

Common Questions Regarding a DWI

Will I go to jail?

The likelihood that you will go to jail relies on a number of variables, including the particulars of your case, your criminal history (if any), the laws in your area, and the success of your defense. Particularly in situations with aggravating circumstances or repeat offenders, a DWI accusation may result in consequences that include jail time. You can better grasp the potential results depending on your case by speaking with an experienced attorney.

Will I be placed on probation?

DWI charges may result in probation, especially for first-time offenders. Regular check-ins with a probation officer, adherence to predetermined requirements (including performing community service or attending alcohol education programs), and refraining from additional criminal conduct during the probationary period are common aspects of probation terms.

Will I have a permanent criminal record?

In many jurisdictions, a DWI/DWAI conviction can result in a lifelong criminal record. Long-term repercussions from this record may have an impact on your ability to get professional licenses, find employment in the future, and other areas of your life. The specifics, however, may change based on the laws of the country where the violation took place.

Will I lose my license?

A DWAI/DWI conviction frequently has repercussions, such as license suspension or revocation. The length of the suspension or revocation might change depending on the gravity of the violation, any past convictions, and the local legislation. In rare circumstances, it would be possible to seek a restricted or conditional license, which would grant you just some driving rights while your license is suspended.

What happens when I go to court?

When you go to court for a DWAI/DUI/DWI charge, you will participate in legal proceedings that may include arraignment, pretrial hearings, plea negotiations, trial (if applicable), and sentencing. The specific events and procedures will depend on the laws and practices of your jurisdiction.

How long will the court process last?

The intricacy of the case, court scheduling, and your decision to either dispute the charges or accept a plea deal can all have a significant impact on how long the court process takes. While some matters can be concluded quickly, others could require more time, especially if a trial is required.

How can I find the best lawyer to defend me?

Selecting the best attorney is essential to your defense. Start by looking for internet directories, bar organization websites, and legal referral services that may provide you with a list of skilled lawyers in Queens, NYC, and Suffolk & Nassau counties. Consider a lawyer’s experience, track record, proficiency in DUI/DWI/DWAI cases, degree of comfort with their communication style, and approach to your case before choosing one.

How Our Firm Can Help

Being arrested for DWI does not mean you will be convicted, as long as you have the informed legal representation we provide. Once you become our client, we will:

  • Obtain and review the police report
  • Determine whether police had reasonable cause to make an arrest
  • Challenge the results of the breathalyzer or chemical test

Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to prove that the breathalyzer device was not calibrated, the arresting office improperly administered the test, or that the blood or urine specimen taken by law enforcement was contaminated. It may also be possible to show that your alleged impaired driving was due to a health condition or fatigue. If the prosecution has a strong case, we will advise you of your legal options. 

Contact Our Long Island DWI Defense Attorney

Given the consequences of a DWI/DWAI conviction, not the least of which is having a permanent criminal record, working with a capable DWI attorney is a wise choice. Contact us today to set up a consultation.

Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. defends people involved in DWI cases throughout Long Island including Nassau County, Suffolk County, and New York City, including Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and The Bronx.