In New York, drunk driving is a major concern, as it is in almost every city, town, district, or municipality in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that driving under the influence of alcohol accounts for thousands of deaths each year in the United States. Alcohol affects people in certain ways the CDC finds “predictable,” including reduced ability to respond while driving, loss of visual acuity, difficult concentrating, distorted perception and loss in short-term memory. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level seems to directly correlate with the severity of impairment.

The penalties for drunk driving in New York, as provided by the New York Department of Vehicles, include fines that range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars and jail time ranging from a few days to several years. Repeat offenders must pay larger fines and submit to longer jail sentences. In New York, a higher BAC can result in a more severe sentencing and fines. According to the New York DMV, factors such as weight, age, and gender can also affect BAC levels.

Laws prohibiting driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New York are justified in part because the interest of the government in protecting the public outweighs the personal liberties of a person who desires to drink and drive. Every person who is charged with an alcohol-related violation is also entitled to a defense. Before a criminal conviction can be secured, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense. It is reasonable for a person who decides to drink and drive to be held accountable for his or her actions. Nonetheless, no one should be convicted unless proven guilty.