In general, New York divides its standard DWI offenses into two main categories: driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) offenses and driving while ability impaired (“DWAI”). State law then further separates these crimes into several different kinds of drug and alcohol violations, including:

  • Aggravated DWIs;
  • DWAIs for alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both;
  • DWIs based on blood alcohol content (BAC) of consumer versus commercial drivers;
  • Zero tolerance laws; and
  • Refusal to take a DWI test.

When any of the above DWI/DWAI offenses are committed within a ten year period from an initial conviction, the defendant will become a repeat DWI offender. Drivers who repeat such an offense within a five year period will not only be considered repeat DWI offenders, but will also face a mandatory jail sentence of five days or court-mandated community service for 30 days and will be required to install an ignition interlock device on their motor vehicle.

The penalties one can face in New York for another DWI conviction are quite serious. For example, a first-time DWI/DWAI offender in New York may need to pay fines ranging between $300 and $500, whereas a third-time offender will have to pay between $750 to $1,500 or more.

Therefore, if you are facing charges and a possible conviction for a repeat DWI/DWAI offense, then it may be in your best interest to contact a New York DUI/DWI attorney immediately for further legal advice.

What are the Most Common Forms of Punishment for DWI?

Judges in New York are generally given discretion to decide what sort of punishment a defendant should receive for a DWI/DWAI conviction. This means that aside from reviewing the statutory laws that are applicable to each case, a judge may also consider the facts and circumstances surrounding a specific case.

So, while the type of penalty that a judge ultimately decides to issue can vary on a case-by-case basis, it usually involves one of the following forms of punishment:

  • Suspension or revocation of a driver’s license or vehicle registration;
  • Fines, special assessments, surcharges, and/or various fees;
  • Court-mandated counseling, treatment, or educational sessions;
  • Vehicle-related penalties like installation of an ignition interlock device on a vehicle or forfeiture of a motor vehicle;
  • Parole or probation, possibly with court-mandated community service hours; and/or
  • A jail sentence for a minimum of fifteen days to up to seven years or longer.

Additionally, drivers who have been convicted of a first-time DWI offense should keep in mind that the more times they are convicted of this crime, the harsher their punishment will be for a subsequent conviction.

What Happens to a Repeat Offender After Each DWI Offense?

As is the case in many other states, a repeat offender can expect to receive a harsher sentence for each subsequent conviction of a DWI offense in New York state. This means that for every time a defendant is found guilty of committing a DWI offense, the amount of fines and/or their prison sentence will likely increase. To better demonstrate how this might work, consider the following levels of penalties for DWI convictions in New York:

  • A driver who is found guilty of violating New York’s zero tolerance law for a second time will receive a mandatory civil penalty of $125, a $100 re-application fee, and have their license temporarily revoked for a period of one year or until they turn 21 years of age.
  • A driver who is found guilty of refusing a DWI test within a period of five years from their last refusal will receive a mandatory $750 civil penalty and can have their license revoked for a minimum of eighteen months or permanently if they are a commercial driver.
  • A second DWAI violation within a five year period can result in a mandatory fine of $500 to up to $750, a 30-day jail term, and revocation of a driver’s license for a minimum of six months. A third or further DWAI violation within a period of ten years can lead to a 180 day jail sentence, revocation of a driver’s license for a minimum of six months, and fines ranging between $750 and $1,500.
  • A driver who is convicted of a second aggravated DWI offense will need to pay some amount of fines ranging between $1,000 and $5,000, serve a jail sentence of no longer than four years, and have their license temporarily revoked for a minimum of eighteen months.
    • A third offense for this type of violation can result in fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 or more, a seven-year prison sentence, and revocation of a driver’s license for a minimum of eighteen months.
  • A repeat DWI/DWAI offender who gets convicted a second time within a ten period can receive a prison sentence of up to four years, have their license revoked for at least one full year, and will need to pay fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. The crime will also appear on a criminal record as a Class E felony, which means it cannot be expunged.
    • Third time offenders of this type of violation can receive a prison sentence of up to seven years, have their license revoked for at least a year or longer, and will have to pay fines that start at a minimum of $2,000 and can go as high as $10,000 or more. Also, a conviction for a third time DWI/DWAI offense will appear as a Class D felony on the defendant’s criminal record.

There are also some additional penalties that a court may tack on when certain conditions are present in a case, such as:

  • Increased penalties for multiple drug and/or alcohol violations that occur within a twenty-five year period;
  • Permanent revocation of a driver’s license if a driver was convicted of a drug and/or alcohol related offense or refused to submit to a chemical test three or more times within a ten year period;
  • Extra surcharges for misdemeanor and felony alcohol-related offenses (ranging from $260 to $400); and
  • Temporary revocation of a driver’s license for a minimum of eighteen months if a driver was previously convicted of an aggravated DWI offense and then subsequently convicted of a DWI/DWAI offense within a ten year period, or vice versa.

Lastly, it should be noted that the state of New York does not permit a defendant driver to expunge or seal a conviction related to charges for a DWI or DWAI offense from their criminal record. Thus, it is crucial that defendants who are charged and at risk of having a second conviction for a DWI/DWAI offense appear on their criminal record hire a DWI lawyer to represent them as soon as possible.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Charged With Another DWI?

If you have previously been convicted of a DWI offense and are now currently facing charges for another DWI offense that could lead to a second conviction, then it is strongly recommended that you retain the services of a local New York DUI/DWI lawyer immediately. A New York lawyer who specializes in handling matters involving DWI charges can advise you of your legal rights, defenses, and various protections under the applicable New York state laws.

Your lawyer can discuss your options, such as whether you should take a plea deal or go to trial, and can provide guidance on which option may be the best course of action for you to take based on the facts of your case. Your lawyer can also explain the potential effects that a particular option may have on the types of penalties you receive if convicted.

In addition, your lawyer will be able to assist you in building and presenting a defensive argument in court and may petition the court on your behalf for a reduced or alternative sentence, depending on your situation. Your lawyer will also be able to answer any questions or concerns that you may have throughout the process and can make sure that you understand the terms of your sentence (if any).

Finally, if you need help in getting your car returned and/or your New York state driver’s license reinstated, your lawyer will be able to assist with both these procedures as well. After a certain amount of time has passed, your lawyer can also provide important guidance on when or if you may be eligible to obtain a “Certificate of Good Conduct.” This document can be immensely helpful for securing a job once you have completed your sentence.