In New York, charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) are “priorable,” meaning each subsequent conviction carries harsher penalties than the last. This has significant repercussions if you have been charged with a second offense.
Having a DWI-defense attorney from Young and Young can make a huge difference in the outcome if you have been charged for drunk driving a second time. Contact them online or call their law office at (631) 224-7500.
Different BAC Levels Have Different Charges
New York is somewhat unique in that it has different drunk driving charges for different levels of blood alcohol content (BAC). Second offense charges can be for:
- Driving while alcohol impaired (DWAI) if your BAC was below 0.08% but a police officer is convinced that your driving ability was impaired by alcohol
- DWI if your BAC was between 0.08% and 0.18%
- Aggravated DWI if your BAC was above 0.18%
Additionally, you can face aggravated DWI charges if you were intoxicated and had a passenger under the age of 15 in your car.
New York's Look Back Period for DWI Charges
Importantly, a charge for DWI in any form becomes a second offense if you have already been convicted for DWI in the past. However, New York's DWI law does not look all the way back in time to search for a prior offense: Instead, the look back period is only ten years, when the new charge is for DWI, and five years if the new charge is for DWAI or aggravated DWI.
Penalties for a Second DWAI
If you have been arrested and accused of DWAI, and you have already been convicted for DWAI in the past five years, you could face the following penalties:
- A fine of between $500 and $750
- Up to 30 days in jail
- A license suspension of at least six months, without the possibility of a conditional license
- Court fees of approximately $250
- Attendance at a victim impact panel for drunk driving
- SR-22 insurance requirement
Penalties for a Second DWI Offense in New York
Second offenses of DWI are much more serious. While first offenses are considered misdemeanors, a second offense of DWI in the span of ten years is a Class E felony. These come with the following penalties if you are convicted:
- Fines of between $1,000 and $5,000
- Between five days and four years in jail, though the judge has the discretion to order 30 days of community service instead of a minimum sentence
- A suspended license period of at least a year, or at least 18 months if the prior offense was for aggravated DWI, with a conditional license only possible if your prior offense was at least five years ago
- Mandatory alcohol rehabilitation before you can get your driver's license back
- Three years of probation
- At least six months with an Ignition Interlock Device in your car after your license is restored
- Court fees of around $400
- A drunk driving victim impact panel
- SR-22 insurance requirement
Penalties for a Second Aggravated DWI Offense
The penalties for a second aggravated DWI offense within ten years are the same as for a second offense of a standard DWI, with the only difference being that your license will be suspended for at least 18 months, rather than just one year.
Violations of the Implied Consent Law
New York's implied consent law requires you to submit to a chemical BAC test – a breathalyzer or a blood test – if lawfully requested by a police officer. Refusing to take the test is an implied consent violation, and results in an automatic license suspension of at least 18 months and a fine of $750 if you had a DWI conviction or implied consent violation within the past five years.
Defenses Against a Second Offense DWI
All of the same defenses that can be used against a first offense DWI charge can still be applicable to a subsequent charge, including:
- Traffic stop without probable cause
- Illegal search or seizure
- Poorly-administered field sobriety, blood, or breath tests
- Miscalibrated testing machines