New York DUI Laws (All You Should Know)

New York DUI Laws

A bottle of beer won’t hurt.

Many people think like that. But one drink turns into two, and two into three.

By the time they get behind the wheel, they’re alcohol-impaired.

Imagine the dangers of that!

It’s no wonder, then, that the State of New York implements strict DUI laws and harsh penalties. 

And to help you avoid driving under the influence, we’re going to detail these New York DUI laws, as well as all the penalties. We’ll also answer some FAQs. 

This is in hope that you don’t risk it. 

So let’s begin!

New York DUI Offenses

New York DUI Laws (All You Should Know)

New York State takes driving under the influence very seriously. Now, depending on your condition when a law enforcement officer pulls you over, you may receive charges for any of the following:

  • Agg-DWI (Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated): Driving a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of 0.18% or more.
  • DWI (Driving while intoxicated): Operating a vehicle with a BAC level of at least 0.08%. Commercial drivers have a lower threshold at 0.04%.
  • DWAI-drug (Driving While Ability Impaired by a Drug): Taking drugs (or any medication) resulting in impaired driving.
  • DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol): Alcohol leads to impaired driving despite having a BAC lower than 0.08%.
  • Combination-DWAI (Driving Under the Combined Influence of Alcohol and Drugs): Being behind the wheel after taking alcohol and drugs simultaneously.

DUI Laws in New York

There are several laws concerning DUI in New York. These include:

  • Illegal BAC levels
  • Zero-tolerance law
  • Drugs and driving
  • Implied Consent law
  • Open Container law

The following sections explore these in detail. 

Illegal BAC Levels 

In New York, it is illegal to get behind the wheel if your BAC level reaches 0.08%. It’s even lower for commercial drivers – with the illegal level being 0.04%. 

NOTE: If you show signs of impaired driving despite having a BAC lower than 0.08% or 0.04%, you can still be convicted, but only with a DWAI charge. 

You might be wondering, “How much BAC does 1 bottle produce?”

Well, a standard beer bottle will increase your BAC level from around 0.02% to 0.04%. So no matter how little you drink, it’s best to avoid driving altogether. 

Zero-Tolerance Law

For underage drinkers, New York State has a zero-tolerance law. This means that a BAC level as low as 0.02% will already be charged as a DWI. 

What’s more, the NY DMV may suspend underage driver’s licenses for 6 months. 

Besides losing driving privileges, they will also have to pay fines, including:

  • $100 for a suspension termination fee
  • $125 civil penalty

And this is on top of the usual penalties (which we’ll discuss later on). 

Drugs and Driving

From the various DUI offenses in New York, you’ll notice that alcohol isn’t the only banned substance when behind the wheel. 

Taking drugs and driving can lead to a DWAI-drug charge.

Drugs can severely affect your ability to operate a vehicle — and we aren’t referring to illegal drugs only. Over-the-counter medication, such as diet pills or cold remedies, can have effects similar to alcohol.

This doesn’t exempt medicine prescribed by your physician, either. 

So if your doctor gives you meds for your health condition, ask them about possible side effects. Do the same with pharmacists if you’re buying over-the-counter medication.

The worst possible thing to do is to drink alcohol when you’re taking drugs. Effects of both alcohol and drugs are enhanced, putting you and your passengers in an even more dangerous situation if you’re driving.

This is why this scenario gets the most serious DUI offense, considered a combination-DWAI charge. 

Implied Consent Law

But how do law enforcement officers determine your BAC level?

If they suspect you of DUI, they will pull you over and have you take a chemical test. 

Now, under the New York Implied Consent law, getting a NY driver’s license means you automatically agree to undergo these tests.

A chemical test — whether blood, breath, or urine — is a double-edged sword. Taking it may confirm you’re driving while intoxicated, but refusing it leads to the following consequences:

OffenseLicense RevocationCivil PenaltyDriver Responsibility AssessmentReinstatement Fee
First1 year$500A $250 annual fee for 3 years$100
Second18 months$750A $250 annual fee for 3 years$100

NOTE: If you already have a DWI on your record and refuse a chemical test, courts consider it a second offense.

Open Container Law  

The New York Open Container law is there to prevent DUI. 

Under this law, you and your passengers cannot transport open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. You either keep the bottle sealed or place it in an area where nobody can reach it (like in the car’s trunk)

If you violate this law, you’ll face the following consequences on your first offense:

  • A fine of up to $150
  • A mandatory surcharge
  • A crime victim assistance fee
  • Possible jail time of 15 days

Remember, penalties are higher if you are convicted again within 18 months.

It’s important to note that this law does not apply if you’re riding in a for-hire passenger vehicle that seats more than 10 people. 

You can also take a partially-consumed bottle of wine home if you meet the following conditions:

  • You consumed part of the contents at an establishment that sells it, and you had a meal there.
  • The bottle seal has been tampered with. 
  • The restaurant provides you with a dated receipt of the wine bottle.
  • You placed the bottle in your trunk (or a location that passengers don’t usually occupy).

DUI Penalties in New York

Depending on your DUI offense, you may face different penalties if convicted. The table below details these.

Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on Driving

New York State takes DUI seriously because it increases the likelihood of accidents, injuries, or worse. 

Why is that?

Well, let’s just look at some of the effects of alcohol and drugs: 

  • It makes eye, hand, and foot coordination challenging.
  • It slows down your response time.
  • It makes concentrating more difficult.
  • It impairs your ability to see clearly.
  • It leads to poor judgment.

All of these effects are very dangerous when you get behind the wheel. 

Understanding Your BAC

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) measures the amount of alcohol in your system. Even if you hold your liquor well, it doesn’t mean that your BAC hasn’t increased after several drinks.

However, a couple of factors affect how fast or slow it rises. These include the following:

  • The type of alcoholic beverage you drink. Some contain a higher percentage of alcohol than others.
  • How much you drink and how fast. The shorter the gap between drinks, the higher your BAC becomes.
  • Your weight. 


To provide even more information about New York DUI laws, let’s answer some frequently asked questions. 

What is the Ignition Interlock Program?

Anyone convicted of a DWI or other related offense must have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in their vehicle. 

With this, you have to provide the device with a sample breath. If it doesn’t detect alcohol on your breath, the ignition will turn on. 

Usually, this remains installed for at least 12 months unless the court agrees to have it removed earlier.

Do you lose your license immediately after a DUI in NY?

Yes, a judge may suspend your license during your arraignment. 

If convicted of a DUI offense, your license will either be suspended or revoked.

Is jail time mandatory for 1st DUI in NY?

Not necessarily. A first DWI doesn’t require you to spend a minimum amount of time behind bars. If you do need to serve jail time, though, it won’t go over a year. 

Is DUI a felony in NY?

First DUI offenses are typically misdemeanors. It becomes a felony after a second offense.

How long is a DUI on your record in NY?

A DWI conviction stays on your New York driving record for 15 years.

How do you get a DUI dismissed in NY?

You can get a DWI charge dismissed if you can prove the following:

  • The law enforcement officer didn’t have reason to pull you over.
  • The police officer made an arrest without probable cause.
  • The officer didn’t follow the protocols for conducting the chemical test.
  • There is no proof that you intended to operate the vehicle.
  • You weren’t driving on a public highway.

The Wrap Up

And that was all you needed to know about the New York DUI laws. 

As a driver, it is your responsibility to follow all these laws to keep the roads safe. 

Trust us, you don’t want to have to face the harsh penalties…

More importantly, you don’t want to have to face the realities of an accident. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *