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Drunk driving: its factors and offenses in New York State

People in New York State invariably understand that being arrested and charged with drunk driving can lead to various consequences. The amount of alcohol in the system is important for drunk driving charges, but it is not necessary to be above the generally accepted level of .08 blood-alcohol content to be charged. Less alcohol in the system combined with other indications of impairment can lead to charges.

There are five factors that dictate how impaired a person is: how much they have had to drink; whether they have eaten and how much while consuming alcohol; how long the person was drinking alcohol; body weight and biological sex. People who have been drinking do not have a way to become sober enough to drive before the alcohol has left the system. That can only happen after enough time has passed for the alcohol to have been absorbed.

There are six different alcohol-related DWI offenses. Driving While Intoxicated will be charged if the person has a blood-alcohol content that registers .08 or higher or there is other evidence of intoxication. If it is a commercial driver, the level is .04 BAC. Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated is when the driver has a BAC of .18 or above. Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol is when the driver has a BAC of higher than .05, but less than .07. Drivers can face DWI charges if they are deemed to be under the influence of a combination of drugs or alcohol.

Drivers are required to take a blood, breath or urine test when asked to do so. Failure can result in a allegation of refusing a breath test, which has penalties of its own. Finally, there is the Zero Tolerance Law for people under the age of 21. The drinking age in the state is 21. If a person is caught with a BAC between .02 and .07 while driving under the age of 21, it violates this law.

Those who are arrested for DWI offenses listed above need to be aware of the consequences including the possibility of lost driving privileges, fines and even incarceration. Lodging a strong defense is essential. For that, a lawyer experienced in drunk driving cases is key.

Source: dmv.ny.gov, “Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations,” accessed on April 23, 2017

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James L. Riotto
Criminal Defense Lawyer

James L. Riotto is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving clients in New York. With an extensive background in law enforcement and criminal prosecution, his approach to each case is unique and informed by years of experience with the New York criminal justice system. As a graduate from Albany Law School and before going on to start his own practice, James worked at the Albany County District Attorney's Office, where he helped prosecute many DWI offenses. His inside knowledge of the tactics used to gain convictions provides him with a particular advantage when defending against DUI and other criminal charges.

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Adam D. Staier
Of Counsel

About Attorney Adam Staier has spent the last seven years practicing criminal defense law throughout upstate New York and the Capital Region. He began his legal career through internships in civil law, indigent legal representation and federal energy law regulation. Finding a passion in criminal law, Mr. Staier held internships handling both prosecution and defense…

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William M. Swift
Associate Attorney

About William M. Swift is an associate attorney at the Law Office of James L. Riotto and brings 20 years of experience to our clients. His practice focuses on personal injury cases and criminal matters. He has successfully represented individuals in felony, misdemeanor cases. Additionally, he has extensive knowledge in DMV administrative proceedings involving suspensions…

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