DWI & DWAI Penalties

Penalties for Under the age of 21:  Drivers license will be revoked for one year if you are convicted of DWI or DWAI that occurred in New York State, or any other state, or in a province of Canada.  If you are found to have refused to take a chemical test in New York State, even if not convicted of DWI or DWAI, license will be revoked for one year.  If a second offense is committed while under the age of 21, license will be revoked for at least one year or until you are 21, whichever is longer.

Zero Tolerance:  Law that makes it illegal for a driver under the age of 21 to have consumed any alcohol.  A police officer may temporarily detain you to request or administer a test to determine blood Alcohol content (BAC).  If BAC is .02 to .07 you will be notified to appear at a DMV hearing.  If a judge’s findings supports the charge the penalty is 6 months license suspension, a $125 civil penalty and a $100 suspension termination fee.  Each additional offense will result in license being revoked for at least one year until age 21, whichever is longer, plus a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 license re-application fee.

Commercial Drivers:  Drivers holding a commercial license, class A,B or C, face stricter blood alcohol content (BAC) standards, as well as tougher penalties while operating a vehicle that requires a CDL license.  A single conviction for DWI, DWAI or having a .04% or higher BAC requires a minimum 1 year revocation of driver’s license (3 years if driving a vehicle that requires hazardous material place cards).  A second conviction within the driver’s lifetime results in permanent revocation, with possible waiver after 10 years.  A third conviction results in a permanent revocation without the possibility of ever getting it back.  

Refusing to Submit to Testing:  If you refuse a chemical test for blood alcohol content (BAC), license will be suspended at arraignment in court, and revoked for at least one year (second offense 18 months) at a motor vehicle hearing.  You will also be subject to a civil penalty of $500 (second offense $750).  

Leandras Law:  This law makes operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs with a passenger under the age of 16 a class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in state prison.  Courts must order all drivers, including youthful offenders, convicted of driving while intoxicated or aggravated driving while intoxicated to install and maintain an ignition interlock on any vehicle owned and operated by such driver for 12 months.  The law also makes it a felony to drive drunk with a conditional license.  Drivers who drive while intoxicated or impaired by drugs and cause the death of a child under 16 in the vehicle may be charged with a class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.  Driver who drive while intoxicated or impaired by drugs and cause serious physical injury to child under 16 in the vehicle may be charged with a class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

DWI Laws


Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles

Ignition Interlock Rules: Ignition Interlock Rules apply to all Misdemeanor DWI and Felony DWI Convictions in New York State for any conviction under the NYS DWI statute.

Leandra’s Law requires a court to impose a sentence of probation or a conditional discharge as part of every conviction for driving while intoxicated, regardless of whether jail or prison time is imposed.

  1. The court must also include as a condition of probation or conditional discharge that the defendant install and maintain a functioning ignition interlock device on any motor vehicle he or she owns or operates. 
  2.  This period of probation or conditional discharge shall run consecutively to any period of imprisonment the court may impose and “commences when the defendant is released from imprisonment.” 
  3. As a result, even state prison terms for felony DWI charges require a sentence of probation or conditional discharge consecutive to the prison term, as well as a condition that the defendant install an ignition interlock device on any cars the defendant owns or operates.
  4. The new law also amends the Executive Law to provide that the Board of Parole must require as a condition of any parole or conditional release for defendants convicted of “a felony as defined in” that the defendant install and maintain an ignition interlock device in accordance on any motor vehicle he or she owns or operates. Accordingly, a defendant released on parole or conditional release after being sentenced to a state prison term will be concurrently supervised by both the Department of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) and the Division of Parole.

Ignition interlock devices are also required where the court sentences a defendant to a period of probation or conditional discharge for any penal law offense.  Six Penal Law offenses fall within the statute, and they are treated differently than convictions under the Vehicle and Traffic Law. For instance, while the court must impose an interlock condition as part of any sentence of probation or conditional discharge for these Penal Law offenses, it may not include probation or conditional discharge in a sentence to a term of imprisonment (except where the court imposes a traditional split sentence. Instead, for defendants subjected to a state prison term, Leandra’s Law amended the Executive Law to direct the Board of Parole to include the ignition interlock requirement as a condition of the defendant’s parole or conditional release. There is no provision, however, that authorizes a court to mandate installation of an interlock device where it sentences a defendant solely to a jail term of one year or less.

When imposing a sentence of probation or conditional discharge for a conviction, the court must order the defendant to use ignition interlock devices for at least six months. However, where a defendant is convicted and has previously been convicted of one or more of those offenses within the preceding five years, the court must order such devices for the entire period of license revocation, which may be up to eighteen months. Of course, the court is also authorized to maintain the condition for the entire period of probation or conditional discharge.

Leandra’s Law does not set forth any minimum period of an interlock condition imposed for a violation. The law only requires that where the defendant is sentenced to a term of probation or conditional discharge, the court must order an interlock as a condition. Thus, any subsequent termination of the interlock condition allows the court to “modify or enlarge the conditions of a sentence of probation or of conditional discharge at any time prior to the expiration or termination of the period of the sentence.”

The projected cost of an ignition interlock device ranges from $75 to $115 per month and installation and removal fees range from $40 to $100. The total cost for a six month period will therefore be approximately $500 to $800, which is to be paid by the person subject to the condition. However, the statute also provides that where “the court determines such person is financially unable to afford such cost,”the court may impose a payment plan or waive the cost altogether. To assist the court in determining whether to waive part or all of the costs, or help approve a payment plan, DPCA has designed a financial disclosure form that the defendant must complete in connection with the application. DPCA regulations provide that three copies of the form must be submitted to the court prior to sentencing, and that the court should retain one copy and provide the other copies to the prosecutor and defense counsel. The financial disclosure form may be found on both the DPCA and UCS websites. Where the court grants the application to waive any part or all of the costs, the ignition interlock manufacturers must bear the cost.

Leandra’s Law requires DPCA to promulgate regulations to govern “the monitoring of compliance by persons ordered to install and maintain ignition interlock devices “and to establish standards for monitoring by departments of probation and other agencies. After a lengthy development process, DPCA issued these rules as Part 358 of Title 9 NYCRR. A copy of the rules may be found on the websites of both DPCA and the Unified Court System. In brief, the rules call for the City of New York, and each county outside the City of New York, to establish plans to provide for monitoring defendants sentenced to probation or a conditional discharge with an interlock condition. Every plan must designate the probation department as monitor for all interlock cases made as a condition of a sentence of probation, but may designate an alternate agency to monitor interlock conditions imposed pursuant to a sentence of a conditional discharge.

DPCA regulations provide for three different classes of interlock devices, and direct that the monitoring agency, not the court, determine the appropriate class of device for each defendant. Class I devices have reporting capabilities, store data for later downloading, are programmable and possess anti-tampering features. Class II devices have all of the features of a Class I device plus photographic identification procedures. Class III devices contain all the features of a Class II device, but also provide significantly more sophisticated features such as GPS tracking, real-time data reporting and infra-red or other low-light camera capability. Not surprisingly, class III devices are typically more expensive than Class I or Class II devices. The regulations divide New York State into four regions and require manufacturers in each region to ensure that defendants need travel no more than fifty miles to have an interlock device installed. Currently, seven ignition interlock manufacturers have been approved to provide ignition interlock device in New York, and each region will be serviced by at least four different companies. Under the regulations, defendants may choose the manufacturer and model of device within their designated Class.

***A defendant must install interlocks within ten business days after the interlock condition takes effect, and must submit proof of compliance to the court or monitor within three business days of installation. Defendants sentenced to probation who live outside the county of the sentencing court will have their probation supervision transferred to the county where the defendant resides. Defendants sentenced to a conditional discharge who live outside the county of the sentencing court will be monitored by the monitoring agency of the defendant’s county of residence, but the original sentencing court will retain jurisdiction over the case. Any violations of the conditional discharge will be directed to the original sentencing court. Out of state residents convicted in New York are subject to the provisions of Leandra’s Law, and the rules governing the interstate compact for adult offender supervision. Where a defendant is not subject to the compact,the monitor will cooperate with a qualified manufacturer to allow for regular reporting to the monitor, and the sentencing court will retain jurisdiction of the case.

***It is a now a class A misdemeanor for any defendant to operate a motor vehicle in violation of an interlock condition.