What are the Potential Consequences of a Misdemeanor NY DWI Conviction?


If you have been convicted of misdemeanor DWI in New York under 1192(2) for blowing 0.08 or more, 1192(3) for being intoxicated, or 1192(4) for drugs, there can be harsh consequences including criminal penalties, DMV fines, suspension/revocation, international travel restrictions, immigration consequences, a lower credit score, and loss of employment.

If you've been convicted under New York Penal Law § 1192(2), 1192(3), or 1192(4) as a misdemeanor you can face:

(1) Jail

Even if it's your first arrest and you're only charged with misdemeanor DWI, you can receiveup to one year of imprisonment (VTL §1193(1)(b)) which would be served in the custody of the New York City Department of Correction. Your attorney must pay careful attention to whether you are being threatened with a jail sentence. This is not as easy as it seems. A prosecutor may not ask for jail on one court date, but then demand a jail sentence later in the case. Similarly, the judge can reject a non-jail outcome if the judge thinks a jail sentence is appropriate. Your attorney should pay close attention to the risk of jail, formulate an effective strategy to reduce or eliminate this risk, and explore the strength or weakness of the prosecutor's case.

Intermittent imprisonment is also authorized. This is a sentence of imprisonment which, after the court makes certain findings of fact, may allow an eligible person to receive a shorter period of imprisonment followed by 90 days of in-patient treatment at an eligible facility. The jail term could also be served by way of a split sentence where a period of incarceration is followed by probation for up to 3 years. The risk of a jail sentence will depend greatly on the facts of your case, the county where you are being prosecuted, and your defense strategy.

(2) Probation

You can be sentenced to up to 3 years of probation if (1) institutional confinement is not necessary for the protection of the public, (2) you are in need of guidance, training, or other assistance which would be administered through probation supervision and (3) probation is not considered to be unjust. Interim probation supervision is also permitted. This is a pre-sentencing order where the court can reschedule your sentencing to give you time to comply with a series of conditions. Probation can be problematic especially if you plan to move or travel. Your attorney may be able to avoid or eliminate probation depending the steps he or she takes and the facts of your case.

(3) Conditional Discharge

The court can impose a conditional discharge for 1 year if the court decides that your character and facts of the case are consistent with this outcome. A conditional discharge is a sentence where the court imposes certain conditions that must be completed within one year for misdemeanors.

(4) Fines

The court can impose a fine of $500 to $1,000 (VTL 1193(1)(b) and a mandatory surcharge of $175 (or $180 if in a village or town court) and a crime victim assistance fee of $25, and a DWI-DWAI surcharge of $195. You may be able to pay this fine over time but this depends on the county where your case is being heard.

(5) License revocation

The court must revoke your license for 6 months (VTL 1193(2)(b).

(6) Ignition interlock

The court will require you to install an ignition interlock device on any car that you own or operate for at least 6 months. This is a device that you have to blow into before your car will start. This device can lead to numerous complications because any defects in its operation could lead to an accusation that you tampered with it so make sure you keep in touch with your attorney if any problems come up.

(7) Drinking Driver Program (DDP) or Stop DWI

These are alcohol education type programs. DDP lasts for 16 hours and is also required by the DMV to get a conditional license. Participants in these programs receive an in-depth education regarding alcohol and other drug choices in an effort to deter substance abuse. Stop DWI is a longer, harsher program and is generally reserved for more serious cases. You may be able to negotiate a more suitable program arrangement depending on the steps your attorney takes and the facts of your case.

(7) Additional penalties

If you've been previously convicted of a DWI related offense, additional penalties will apply. A jail sentence may be required if you've been previously convicted.

(8) DMV Consequences

In addition to any revocation imposed by the court, you may face an additional period of revocation if you refused to submit to the Breathalyzer or otherwise comply with chemical testing. The DMV will probably also impose the driver responsibility assessment of $250 per year for three years for a total of $750.

(9) International Travel Consequences

Some foreign countries will refuse to let you enter because of your DWI conviction. Canada and Australia are known to do this and fixing it can be difficult or impossible. Even if your case is pending, you may be denied entry.

(10) Credit Problems

Unpaid fines, court fees, or other monetary penalties could harm your credit history. Speak with your lawyer so you know exactly what you have to pay and by when.

(11) Employment Problems

A DWI conviction under 1192(2), 1192(3), or 1192(4) is a misdemeanor and so it is considered a criminal conviction. In New York, criminal convictions are generally permanent meaning that a DWI conviction will probably give you a permanent criminal record.

(12) Immigration Problems

Immigration may view a DWI conviction as a crime of moral turpitude. A crime of moral turpitude is not specifically defined but the Department of State has indicated that some DWI convictions will be considered crimes of moral turpitude. A DWI conviction could lead to deportation, inadmissibility, or ineligibility for naturalization. Because I work closely with an immigration lawyer, my office is able to provide immigration advise in addition to DWI defense.

(13) Insurance

Unfortunately, a DWI conviction can lead to a massive increase of your automobile insurance rates or loss of coverage.

(14) Other Licenses

A DWI conviction, like any criminal conviction, can have serious implications for other licenses. If you have a securities licenses, real estate licenses, medical or law license, or license to carry a firearm you could face suspension or loss of your licenses upon conviction.

The above list is not intended to be exhaustive but summarizes some of the most common effects of a DWI conviction. Most of these dreadful consequences happen only if you're convicted. Convictions are generally irreversible so it is important to seek the help of an experienced DWI Attorney to help ensure the best outcome possible.