Drunk Driving, What Can it Cost You?

Pianko Law Group 
July 15, 2021

Intoxicated driving is a crime. You should never get behind the wheel if you are inebriated because drunk driving hinders your judgment, coordination, and overall ability to drive. Driving while intoxicated can cause catastrophic injuries to you and others on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one in every three traffic deaths in the United States involves a drunk driver.

Your level of impairment is dependent on five factors:

  1. The amount of alcohol you drink
  2. If you consumed food before or during the time you spent drinking
  3. The amount of time you are drinking
  4. Your body weight
  5. Your gender

It is important to remember that time is the only proven method to becoming sober. Your body can process alcohol at around 1 drink an hour. Anything more can increase your Blood Alcohol Content to illegal driving limits.

If convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, also known as a DWI, several criminal penalties can occur. The penalty is dependent on what offense you are on, how many offenses you have in a certain time frame, the blood alcohol content at the time you were driving, and if you caused any injuries. To be charged with a DWI, you must have a blood alcohol content, or BAC, of .08% or higher if operating a passenger vehicle and .04% if operating a commercial vehicle. There is usually jail time, fines, and the suspension of your license served as punishment. Often there are different penalties for commercial drivers, compared to passenger vehicle drivers as well. Below are tables that beak down the different charges and punishments you can receive:

Offense Number within 10-years Classification of Charge Maximum Jail Time Maximum Fine Minimum Time for Revocation of License
First Offense DWI 1 Year $1,000 6 Months
Second Offense Class E Felony 4 years $5,000 1 Year
Third Offense Class D Felony 10 years $10,000 1 Year

The penalties for your charges will be dependent on several factors that surround your case. These can include the actual BAC, your behavior and cooperation with the officers, and other components of your particular case.

You can also be charged with Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, or AGG DWI, if your BAC is higher than .18%. The penalties for this charge are slightly different from those of a regular DWI and are explained in the table below:

Offense Number within 10-years Classification of Charge Maximum Jail Time Maximum Fine Minimum Time for Revocation of License
First Offense AGG DWI 1 year $1,000-$2,500 1 Year
Second Offense Class E Felony 4 Years $5,000 18 Months
Third Offense Class D Felony 7 Years $10,000 18 Months

Even if your BAC is below the legal .08%, in New York, you can still be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol, or a DWAI Alcohol. This is a lesser charge than that of a DWI and only requires your BAC to be between .07% and .05%. The fines, jail time, and license suspension will all be dependent on the offense number and surrounding circumstances of your case explained in the table below:

Offense Number Maximum Jail Time Maximum Fine Minimum Time for Revocation of License
First Offense 15 Days $500 90 Days
Second Offense IN 5-YEAR PERIOD 30 Days $750 6 Months
Third Offense IN 10-YEAR PERIOD 180 Days $1,500 6 Months

There are other charges that you can rack up when being charged with any of the above penalties. These can range from being underage, refusal of a chemical test, or multiple violations within 25 years.

New York state is a Zero Tolerance state. This means that if you are caught drinking and driving while under the age of 21, and your system has any measurable amount of alcohol then this is an automatic violation of the law. Your fine can range significantly and your license will be revoked for a minimum of 6 months. On top of this charge, you can receive any of the above as well.

A driver refusing a chemical test of the blood, breath, or urine can be charged with a chemical test refusal, as well as any of the above charges. A chemical test refusal will usually result in a $500 fine and your license being revoked for at least a year.

Repeat offenders are common for DWI cases. There are greater penalties that can be applied for multiple alcohol violations that occur within a 25 year period.

You can be charged with criminal conduct if caught drinking and driving, but if you cause an accident, you also run into the potential of facing civil penalties. Civil cases usually result in compensation to the injured in the form of monetary awards and these damages can be calculated for several things, such as:

«     Medical bills and treatment cost

«     Lost income and benefits

«     Decreased earning capacity

«     Impairment or disability

«     Loss of quality and enjoyment of life

«     Distress and mental anguish

«     Pain and suffering

This list is not extensive, and there are many other costs and expenses that you can be sued for in the case of injuries caused by an intoxicated driver.

Drinking and driving is never okay. It can cost you more than you think and cause a significant amount of harm to yourself and others. Never get behind the wheel when inebriated.

Even though drunk driving cases have significantly decreased in the last few years, it is still a major problem in New York. There are several programs that have been put into place to help spread awareness and combat easily preventable tragedies. According to the CDC there are several proven methods that have worked in New York to prevent drunk driving.

  • Zero Tolerance laws for individuals drinking and driving under the age of 21 and having a minimum drinking age of 21 in all 50 states have saved tens of thousands of lives since implementation.
  • Sobriety checkpoints, which allow for police officers to stop vehicles to see if a driver is impaired.
  • Ignition interlocks installed in cars of individuals who have been convicted of drunk driving. These mechanisms do not allow the car to start unless the driver breathes a .02% or lower. The usage of these tools has lowered the chance of a person repeating an offense significantly once installed.
  • Revocation of license laws that allow for someone who has a BAC over the legal limit or refuses a chemical test to have their license suspended for a certain period of time.
  • School-based instructional programs that teach teens not to ride with drunk drivers, preventing deaths of passengers in drunk driving accidents.

Drunk driving is a serious offense and if a car crash that ensues, this can devastate you and your family. If you or a loved one has been injured in New York during a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and suffering you’ve subsequently endured. Recovering from a car accident can be extremely distressing while negotiating low settlement offers from an insurance company, adjusting to injuries and navigating everyday expenses if you must take a leave from work. Pianko Law has helped numerous individuals like yourself and your family recover the compensation they deserve.

PIANKO.LAW – Aggressive Personal Injury Lawyers

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