Understanding New York’s DUI Laws and Penalties

Understanding New York’s DUI Laws and Penalties

Being charged with a DUI in New York can lead to serious legal consequences. This article provides an overview of New York’s DUI laws, penalties for DUI convictions, and what to do if you have been charged with a DUI.

New York’s DUI Laws

In New York, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This is known as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or sometimes called Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

You can also be charged with a DUI in New York if you drive while impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. This means that even if your BAC is under 0.08%, you can still be arrested and convicted if the officer determines you are too impaired to drive safely.

Aggravated DWI

New York has harsher penalties for Aggravated DWI charges when:

  • Your BAC is 0.18% or higher
  • You drive with a child under 16 years old in the vehicle

Zero Tolerance for Drivers Under 21

The legal BAC limit for drivers under 21 years old in New York is 0.02%. Any detection of alcohol in an underage driver can lead to a DUI charge.

Penalties for DUI Convictions in New York

The penalties for a DUI conviction depend on the number of prior offenses and the circumstances of the current offense. Generally, the more prior DUIs you have, the harsher the penalties.

First Offense Misdemeanor DUI

For a first DUI conviction, common penalties include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fines of $500 to $1,000
  • License revocation for at least 6 months
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device

Second Offense (Within 10 Years)

A second DUI within 10 years brings increased penalties such as:

  • Up to 4 years in jail
  • Fines of $1,000 to $5,000
  • License revocation for at least 1 year
  • Potential felony charge

Third Offense (Within 10 Years)

A third DUI within 10 years is a Class D felony with penalties including:

  • Up to 7 years in prison
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • License revocation for at least 18 months
  • Potential lifetime license revocation

In addition to fines and jail time, a DUI conviction also brings many other non-monetary consequences. Your auto insurance rates will likely increase significantly after a DUI. You may also have difficulty finding employment, particularly for jobs that require driving.

What to Do If You Are Charged With a DUI

Being arrested for DUI can be scary and overwhelming. Fortunately, New York law provides protections for DUI defendants and an experienced DUI defense attorney can help guide you through the complex legal process.

Hire an Attorney

Having a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer is essential to protect your rights and build the strongest defense for your case. An attorney can review the details of your arrest, challenge any illegal actions by the police, and negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or penalties.

According to one New York Redditor in r/legaladvice, “Getting a good lawyer was the best decision I made after my DUI arrest. She was able to get the charges reduced to a non-alcohol-related reckless driving charge by challenging the basis for the traffic stop.”

Explore Your Legal Options

Every DUI case is unique, so it is important to meet with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your arrest and options. For example, first-time offenders may be eligible for pre-trial diversion programs or plea deals to avoid a criminal conviction. There also may be technical errors in how your BAC was tested or how the police handled the traffic stop that could lead to reduced or dismissed charges.

As one New York DUI defense lawyer explains on Avvo, “There are many ways we can fight a DUI charge in New York, ranging from challenging probable cause for the traffic stop to questioning the procedures used to collect breath and blood samples.”

Take Action Promptly

It is important to act quickly after a DUI arrest to avoid missing critical deadlines. In New York, drivers have only 30 days from the date of arrest to request a DMV hearing to try to save their license. DUI defendants also have only 30 days to decline a plea bargain or the offer gets withdrawn.

Having an experienced DUI attorney on your side from day one ensures important defense strategies and tactics are not overlooked early on in the legal process.

Finding the Right DUI Lawyer

The right lawyer can make all the difference in how your DUI case progresses and the outcome you achieve. When researching attorneys, look for the following credentials and experience:

  • Focus specifically on DUI/DWI defense
  • Familiarity with local courts and prosecutors
  • Track record of achieving not guilty verdicts and charge reductions
  • Willingness to take your case to trial if needed

Be sure to ask about the specific strategies the attorney would use to defend your case. Reputable lawyers should discuss options like challenging improper vehicle stops, questioning the validity of field sobriety tests, scrutinizing machine calibration records, and more.

Handling these complex legal issues takes comprehensive DUI law knowledge and resources not available to every lawyer. So when choosing an attorney, select one that is dedicated specifically to DUI defense versus a general practice lawyer.

Costs of a DUI Lawyer

The average cost of a DUI defense attorney in New York ranges from $2,000 to $7,500+ depending on the complexity of the case, whether it goes to trial, and other factors. More serious charges generally cost more to defend against.

While legal fees may seem expensive up front, a DUI conviction carries steep non-monetary penalties. The long-term costs to your freedom, driving privileges, and career prospects are typically far greater than attorney fees. An experienced lawyer maximizes your chances of the best possible outcome.


  • New York has strict DUI laws, with increased penalties for higher BAC levels and prior offenses.
  • Aggravated DUI charges apply when driving with a minor or BAC of 0.18%+.
  • Penalties get harsher for each subsequent DUI within 10 years.
  • Having an attorney helps protect your rights and build the strongest defense.
  • Act promptly to avoid missing deadlines that can hurt your case.
  • Compare credentials and experience when choosing a DUI lawyer.

Being arrested for DUI is scary. But with an experienced New York DUI defense attorney guiding you, it is possible to achieve the best outcome in your case. Reach out for legal help today if you or a loved one is facing DUI charges.