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Understand New York's stance on drunk driving

When you are planning an evening out with friends, you need to plan the transportation you will be using for the night. This is one way that you might be able to avoid facing a drunk driving charge.

New York takes drunk driving very seriously. You can face a host of penalties just for getting behind the wheel when you are impaired. Here are some important things you need to know about drunk driving charges in this state:

Necessity of drunk driving laws

People who have consumed alcohol aren't able to function like they do when they are sober. Alcohol first impairs your judgment, but also your ability to safely operate a vehicle and your coordination. This can prove to be a deadly combination.

Different charges exist

Many people think that you can't be charged unless your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or greater. But this is not the case. You can face a charge for driving while ability impaired by alcohol if you have a BAC of .05 to .07 percent, or if the police officers otherwise spot signs of your impairment.

A driving while intoxicated charge is one that requires a BAC of .08 percent or higher. You can also be charged with this offense if you have other signs of intoxication. The DWI limit for commercial drivers is half that for other drivers. This means a commercial driver can be arrested for DWI for a BAC of .04 percent or higher.

People who have a BAC of .18 or more can be charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated.

If a driver is under 21 years old, they are in violation of New York's "Zero Tolerance Law" if they have a BAC of as little as .02 percent.

Chemical test refusal, driving while ability impaired by a single drug that isn't alcohol, and driving while ability impaired by a combination of influence of drugs or alcohol are other possible charges that you might face for drunk driving.

Penalties for impaired driving

The penalties you face for impaired driving depend on the charge and the circumstances. Driving while ability impaired by alcohol can land you in jail for 15 days. You also face a fine of $300 to $500 and a 90-day driver's license suspension on a first charge. Chemical test refusal and Zero Tolerance Law violations don't have jail time attached, but you do face a fine and a license suspension or revocation.

The number of prior drunk driving charges can also have an impact on the penalties you face. For example, a driving while ability impaired by alcohol charge on a third-offense can lead to 180 days in jail, a six-month license revocation and $750 to $1,500 in fines.

Some drunk driving charges are felonies. Second and third aggravated while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated, driving while impaired by a drug and driving while ability impaired by a combination of drugs/alcohol charges all fall under this umbrella.

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