Third-Offense DWI/DUI in New York

A third-offense DWI (driving while intoxicated) in New York, sometimes called a DUI (driving under the influence), can result in serious consequences and exorbitant costs. A third-offense DWI can be charged as a Class D felony in New York and can result in a prison sentence of up to seven years. Fines and legal fees can easily exceed $10,000. Below are some important facts about third-offense DWIs in New York.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor Crime

If you were convicted of two DWIs, DWAIs (involving drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs), or one of each, within the past ten years and you’re convicted of a new DWI or DWAI (involving drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs), you can be charged with a Class D felony. However, if at least one of your two prior offenses was a DWAI involving only alcohol, your new DWI will likely be charged as a second-offense DWI, a Class E felony or a misdemeanor. 

(See our New York first-offense article for an explanation of the differences between a DWI and a DWAI.)

Administrative Penalties

The fines for a felony third-offense DWI in New York range from $2,000 to $10,000. Other associated costs such as administrative fees and the cost of hiring an attorney, if you choose to do so, can significantly add to the final price tag.

New York law states that the minimum license suspension period for a third-offense DWI is one year. However, in 2012, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) created new regulations that added further obstacles for DWI repeat-offenders trying to get their licenses reinstated.

For drivers whose licenses are revoked for a DWI—who also have had two or three prior DWIs or DWAIs (or a combination of DWIs and DWAIs) within the past 25 years—the new regulations say that the DMV won’t reissue a license for at least five years after the suspension period is completed. In other words, these repeat offenders will be without a license for at least six years—one year for the suspension, and an additional five years under the DMV regulation. The regulations also require these drivers to have ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on their vehicles for five years once they get their licenses back.

Criminal Penalties

For a felony third-offense DWI, a New York judge can sentence the offender to up to seven years in prison. If the offender had two prior DWI convictions within the past five years, the driver must serve a minimum of either ten days in jail or 60 days community service.

The Lookback Period

For purposes of determining whether a current DWI is a third-offense, the “look-back” period is ten years. In other words, a DWI is considered a third-offense if you had two prior offenses within the past ten years. DWAIs also have a ten-year third-offense look-back period.

It’s also important to understand that New York has multiple look-back periods. Depending on your situation, the look-back period could be four, five, ten, or 25 years. Consult with a New York DWI attorney to find out which look-back period applies to your situation.

Obtain Legal Advice

Although New York DWI law limits plea bargaining in DWI and DWAI cases, you should talk to an experienced DWI attorney to find out what your options are. A third-offense DWI is a serious charge and a DWI attorney can help you understand what you’re facing and help you decide how best to handle your case. 

Last updated: 3/18/2016

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