What Is a Felony DWI in New York?

Aggravating factors that can make a drunk driving charge a felony.

By , Attorney

In New York, you can get a DWI (driving while intoxicated) for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of (impaired by) drugs or alcohol. In many cases, an impaired driving offense will be an infraction or a misdemeanor. But, if certain aggravating circumstances are present, a DWI can be a felony offense.

Here are some of the circumstances that can result in felony DWI charges in New York.

Second DWI Conviction Is a Felony

New York has several types of impaired driving offenses. These different classifications depend on what substances the offender had in his or her system and the level of impairment. But, generally, a second DWI or second impaired driving offense involving drugs is a class E felony if the offender has at least one prior conviction within the past ten years.

Convicted motorists generally face one to four years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.

School Bus and Commercial Drivers

A school bus driver who's caught operating a bus while under the influence with at least one student passenger will face class E felony charges. It's also a class E felony to operating certain commercial vehicles while under the influence. A class E felony generally carries one to four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Minors in the Vehicle

A DWI involving a minor passenger who's under the age of 15 is a class E felony. Convicted motorists are looking at one to four years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Felony Charges for DWIs Involving Injuries and Deaths

Causing serious injuries to another person while driving under the influence is "vehicular assault." Generally, vehicular assault is a class E felony and carries one to four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

A DWI offender who ends up killing someone can be charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is generally a class D felony. Class D felonies carry up to seven years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

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