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What is an Aggravated DWI in New York?

Being charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense with serious consequences in the state of New York. The charge of Aggravated DWI is even more serious, with grave ramifications for the driver involved.

The legislature in the state of New York has taken steps in recent years to deter people from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. One of these steps was creating the category of Aggravated DWI, which differs from a regular DWI in several respects.

Here is what you need to know about the charge of Aggravated DWI in the state of New York.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

The most commonly used way to measure intoxication is through blood alcohol concentration. This metric shows the percentage of alcohol in the blood.

The higher the amount of alcohol in the blood, the more likely a driver is to be involved in a vehicular accident. Reflexes, reasoning, depth perception, motor control and memory all become impaired the higher the amount of alcohol in the body.

There are several different levels of DWI in New York.

Driving While Intoxicated, or DWI, indicates a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, or .04 for drivers of commercial vehicles Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol, or DWAI, indicates a BAC of more than .05 but less than .07 Aggravated DWI is the highest and most serious charge. It is given to anyone whose BAC is found to be .18 or higher BAC can be estimated at the scene of an accident by a breathalyzer test. It is also determined by the analysis of blood or urine samples taken promptly by medical professionals.


Aggravated DWI is a misdemeanor, but it entails more serious punishments than a DWI or DWAI. Prosecutors are also more limited in their ability to accept plea bargains with this charge.

If you are convicted of an Aggravated DWI, you will have to pay a fine of at least $1,000. If it is your first such conviction, you may still have to pay up to $2,500.

If this is your second conviction, the maximum fine goes up to $5000, and for third convictions, you can be fined up to $10,000.

Further fines may be levied including a $250 annual assessment by the Department of Motor Vehicles and a $395 court fee.

Jail Time

If this is your first Aggravated DWI conviction, you may still face up to a year in prison.

The amount of possible jail time with this charge increases with subsequent convictions. If this is the second conviction within ten years, the maximum possible prison sentence goes up to four years.

For a third conviction within ten years, the maximum possible jail sentence increases to seven years.

License Action

If you are convicted of aggravated driving while intoxicated, your driver’s license will be revoked by the state for one year. This is a mandatory sentence for this offense.

The length of this loss of license increases if you are convicted again within ten years of the first charge. You may lose your license up to 18 months in addition to all of the other penalties associated with this charge.

Subsequent Convictions

If you are convicted again of Aggravated DWI within ten years of the first offense, the penalties increase significantly. As described above, the maximum jail terms and fines become increasingly onerous.

Subsequent convictions will also raise the level of crime from a misdemeanor to a felony.

The long-term consequences of a felony conviction for this charge are likely to follow you for years to come. They may affect your ability to get a job or obtain a loan.

Presence of Child in the Car

In addition to subsequent convictions, there are many other factors which can increase the severity of DWI charges in the state of New York. For example, if you are caught driving drunk with a child in the car, the penalties increase even more.

New York has one of the toughest law’s in the country regarding transporting a child in a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Called Leandra’s Law and passed in 2009, this law makes it a felony to drive with a BAC of .08 or more when there is a child under the age of 16 in the car. In addition to prison time and automatic suspension of their license, anyone found guilty of this charge must have an ignition interlock/breathalyzer device installed on their vehicle and also may be reported to Child Protective Services.

What Do You Do If You Are Charged With Aggravated DWI?

Being arrested for driving while intoxicated is a distressing experience. During the arrest itself, it is advisable to comply with the police officer’s requests. The side of the road is not the place to dispute the officer’s perception of the case.

The ensuing days after the arrest, you may have many long-term concerns. How might this affect your job? Your family?

It is important to speak to an attorney who specializes in DWI as soon as you can.

Defending someone who has been accused of Aggravated DWI in New York takes expertise in this area. Even if you are an attorney yourself, remember the old adage: “Only a fool would hire himself as a lawyer.” You need an advocate who can vigorously defend your case.

You should look for representation which can provide you with the following:

  • A firm knowledge of the laws in this area
  • A strong track record of successful plea bargaining with prosecutors
  • A keen ability to collect evidence including police records and witness testimony through depositions
  • Reliably prompt and clear responses to your questions and concerns about the process.
  • You need to find an attorney you can trust in this challenging situation. You are literally trusting them with your life.

Defense Against DWI

If you or someone you care about has been charged with driving while intoxicated, it is important to consult with a lawyer right away. You may face stiff penalties, but a skilled lawyer will provide you the best defense possible.

Remember, no reputable criminal defense attorney can guarantee you that he or she can make any charge “go away.” However, working with someone who focuses exclusively on DWI defense will give you a fighting chance.

For more information about how to handle an arrest for driving while intoxicated, contact us.