New York DWI Laws

Learn about New York DWI law and the consequences of a conviction.

Possible Penalties for a New York DWI Conviction

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Minimum Jail

No minimum

5 days jail or 30 days community service

10 days jail or 60 days community service


$500 to $1,000

$500 to $5,000

$500 to $10,000

License Suspension

6-month minimum

1-year minimum

6-year minimum

Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Required




"Look-back" Period

The “look-back” period is the period time that prior DWIs will stay on your record for purposes of determining whether a subsequent DWI will be counted as a first, second, or third offense. New York law is complicated on this issue. Depending on the circumstances, the look-back period can be four, five, ten, or 25 years.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for Per Se DWI

A “per se” DWI is based solely on the driver’s BAC—it doesn’t matter whether or not the driver was actually impaired by alcohol. A motorist can get a DWI in New York with the following BAC levels:

Under 21 Years Old

.02% or more

At Least 21 Years Old

.08% or more

Commercial License

.04% or more

Also, drivers that operate a vehicle in New York with a BAC of .18% can be charged with an “aggravated DWI.”

And regardless of your BAC, you can get a DWI or DWAI (driving while ability impaired) if you drive with while impaired by alcohol. Similarly, if you drive while impaired by drugs, or combination of drugs and alcohol, you can be charged with a drug-DWAI.

Special rules apply to underage drivers (under 21 years old) who operate a vehicle in New York having ingesting drugs or alcohol. Our article, New York: Underage DUI/DWI, discusses these special rules.

How Many Drinks Does It Take?

It’s impossible to accurately say how many drinks it takes for a person to reach a certain BAC. This is because everyone absorbs and metabolizes alcohol at different rates.

However, you might be able to get a rough estimate of how drinks correspond to different BACs by looking at our BAC chart or trying our BAC calculator.

What If you Refuse to Take a Chemical Test in New York?

New York has “implied consent” laws that generally require all drivers to submit to a breath, blood, urine, or saliva test if asked to do so by an officer. Here are the license suspension periods for drivers who refuse testing:

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

1-year license suspension

18-month license suspension with a prior refusal or DWI conviction within the past 5 years

18-month license suspension with a prior refusal or DWI conviction within the past 5 years

For more information on this topic, check out our article on New York’s implied consent laws and the consequences of refusal.

If I’m Charged With a DWI in New York, can I Plea Bargain for a Lesser Offense?

New York law severely limits plea bargaining in DWI cases. To find out more about this issue, see Can I Plead to a "Wet Reckless" in New York?

Seek Legal Advice

New York DWI law is complex and consequences of a DWI conviction can be serious. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a DWI in New York, you should get in contact with an experienced DWI attorney who can talk to you about your situation. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible—immediate action might be necessary to protect your rights.

Updated April 15, 2016


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