When it comes to cracking down on drunk driving, New York cops don’t mess around. When you get pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI), it can be an anxiety-inducing experience. That’s especially true if you have been consuming alcohol within the last few hours. The police may ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, and if you do, your fate can hinge on one little number — your blood alcohol content (BAC).
As many New Yorkers know, a BAC of .08% or higher is the threshold for being considered legally drunk in the state, and police will likely charge you with DWI or worse. Even for a first-time DWI conviction, the penalty has teeth. You will have to pay a mandatory fine of $500 to $1,000, face a maximum jail term of one year and have your driver’s license revoked for at least six months.
But even if your BAC isn’t .08, you may still face serious charges like the following:
Commercial driver DWI — If you’re a commercial vehicle driver, you can be charged with DWI for having a BAC of .04 or above.
DWAI — A higher than .05 but lower than .07 BAC can get you charges of driving while ability impaired (DWAI).
Zero tolerance — If you’re younger than 21, you can be charged with a violation of New York’s Zero Tolerance Law for driving with a BAC of .02 to .07 or potentially any amount of alcohol in your body.
For each of the various charges, police take into consideration not only your BAC but also other evidence of intoxication, such as being noticeably impaired. You may feel merely buzzed, but if you swerve on the road or miss a traffic light, the cops will likely pursue intoxicated or impaired driving charges if there’s alcohol found in your system.
Also keep in mind that DWAI can include driving while under the influence of drugs, such as prescription pills, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, even if your BAC is less than .08.
In addition to the formal penalties, a drunk driving conviction can also hurt your employment and professional opportunities, reputation, insurance costs and more. If you can help it, don’t let it ruin your life. When facing charges of suspected DWI, it’s vital you know your rights and seek the aid of an experienced New York attorney who can help you get fair treatment under the law.