The Legal Consequences of DWI

The law takes DWI and DUI offenses very seriously. After all, driving while intoxicated or under the influence of any illicit substances places you, other drivers, and innocent passengers at risk of property damage, serious injury, and even death. Punishment for a DWI conviction can be harsh even on your first offense, and for repeat offenders, the consequences only worsen. Of course, good DWI defense counsel can help to soften the blow, possibly helping to reduce the fines or sentence imposed by the court. Still, when facing DWI charges, it is important to be aware of the avenues the prosecution is legally entitled to pursue. Knowing the potential consequences you could face can help you to aid your defense in determining the best strategy and weighing the pros and cons of any plea bargain offered.

DWI laws adhere to the Three Strikes principle. It’s not a matter of facing life in prison, although the charges and punishments can stack up should your DWI result in the death of others. Fatalities aside, the potential legal consequences worsen with each subsequent offense.

A first DUI offense is not necessarily a felony; however, if a minor under the age of 16 is present in the vehicle, you do face being charged with a Class E felony. Other potential consequences include:

  • A one year prison sentence
  • A possible four years in prison if any passenger is under 16-years-old
  • $500 to $1,000 in fines; this can increase to up to $5,000 if a minor under 16 is involved in your case
  • Minimum 6-month driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory surcharge and alcohol screening/evaluation
  • Potential for Ignition Interlock Device and Driver Responsibility Assessment

Second Offense

  • Class E felony
  • Five days to four years imprisonment
  • $1,000-$5,000 in fines
  • One month community service
  • Minimum 6-month driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory surcharge and alcohol screening/evaluation
  • Potential for Ignition Interlock Device and Driver Responsibility Assessment

Third Offense

  • Class D felony
  • Ten days to seven years imprisonment
  • $1,000-$10,000 in fines
  • Two months community service
  • Minimum 1 year driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory surcharge
  • Potential Ignition Interlock Device and Driver Responsibility Assessment
  • Alcohol assessment


Again, with second and third offenses, the presence of anyone under the age of 16 in your vehicle will increase the potential harshness of the consequences in your case.

In New York, if you are pulled over by the police on the suspicion of drunk driving and your BAC is found to be 0.08% or above, you can count on being arrested and charged with a DWI or DUI. Furthermore, if you are pulled over because a police officer suspects you are driving under the influence, and you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test or a field-sobriety test, you face losing your driver’s license for at least one year and a $500 fine. This fine increases to $750 for a second refusal.

If you’re facing the consequences of a DWI, the smartest move you can make is to hire an experienced DWI attorney who can defend you against these criminal charges, and assist you in reducing the charges and legal consequences you face. While driving under the influence is never a good decision, this mistake should also not create a barrier to a sober and productive future. The experienced DWI attorneys at Nave DWI Defense Attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to help you understand DWI laws and the potential consequences in your case. For assistance, contact Nave DWI Defense Attorneys at 1-877-435-7394, or fill out our simple online analysis for a free and confidential case evaluation.

The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 269 W. Jefferson St.; Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.

2015-08-03T19:20:19+00:00