DWI FAQ

Q: Should I have refused to take the breath test?

A: That is not always an easy question to answer as there are pros and cons to whatever decision you ultimately make. What is important to remember is that every driver in the State of New York has impliedly consented to submit to a chemical test. Although it is your right not to take the test, the refusal to do so will subject you to a one year revocation of your driving privileges without the possibility of a conditional license, civil penalties and typically an unwillingness on the part of the prosecuting agencies to entertain discussion of a plea bargain. However, should you submit to a chemical test, a positive result will essentially give the prosecution additional evidence against you. As you can see, the decision is not an easy one and should be discussed with experienced DWI defense attorneys in Nassau and Suffolk Counties who have handled thousands of similar cases.

Q: Can I get a conditional license?

A: That depends. As previously stated, in the event of a refusal, a conditional license is not an option. If a motorist opts to take the chemical test, then a conditional license is usually available thirty days after the date of arrest. Qualifying motorists can obtain a hardship license from the Court for the first thirty days. Additionally, any motorist who has had a conditional license in the preceding five years is not eligible for a second one. Further, new changes in the laws have given judges an additional means of suspending a motorist's driving privileges provided that they also at the same time committed a separate infraction under the Vehicle and Traffic Law. So there are many factors that come into play when determining one's eligibility for a conditional license and we are more than happy to discuss the situation with you further.

Q: What are the penalties for DWI convictions?

Penalties for Alcohol-related and Drug-related Violations

Violation (1)Mandatory Fine (2)MaximumJail TermMandatory Driver License Action (3)
Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (A-DWI)$1,000 - $2,5001 yearRevoked for at least one year
Second A-DWI in 10 years (E felony)(1)$1,000 - $5,0004 yearsRevoked for at least 18-months (5)
Third A-DWI in 10 years (D felony)(1)$2,000 - $10,0007 yearsRevoked for at least 18-months (4,5)
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving While Impaired by a Drug (DWAI-Drug)$500 - $1,0001 yearDWI-Revoked for at least six months
DWAI-Drugs - Suspended for at least six months
Second DWI/DWAI-Drug violation in 10 years (E felony)(1)$1,000 - $5,0004 yearsRevoked for at least one year
Third DWI/DWAI-Drug violation in 10 years (D felony)(1)$2,000 - $10,0007 yearsRevoked for at least one year (4)
Driving While Ability Impaired by a Combination of Alcohol/Drugs (DWAI-Combination)$500 - $1,0001 yearRevoked for at least six months
Second DWAI/Combination in 10 years (E felony)(1)$1,000 - $5,0004 yearsRevoked for at least one year/18 months (5)
Third DWAI/Combination in 10 years (D felony)(1)$2,000 - $10,0007 yearsRevoked for at least one year/18 months (4,5)
Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI)$300 - $50015 daysSuspended for 90 days
Second DWAI violation in 5 years$500 - $75030 daysRevoked for at least six months
Zero Tolerance Law$125 civil penalty and $100 fee to terminate suspensionNoneSuspended for six months
Second Zero Tolerance Law$125 civil penalty and $100 re-application feeNoneRevoked for one year or until age 21
Chemical Test Refusal$500 civil penalty ($550 for commercial drivers)NoneRevoked for at least one year, 18 months for commercial drivers.
Chemical Test Refusal within five years of a previous DWI-related charge/Chemical Test Refusal$750 civil penaltyNoneRevoked for at least 18 months, one-year or until age 21 for drivers under age 21, permanent CDL revocation for commercial drivers.
Chemical Test Refusal -
Zero Tolerance Law
$300 civil penalty and $50 re-application feeNoneRevoked for at least one year.
Chemical Test Refusal -
Second or subsequent Zero Tolerance Law
$750 civil penalty and $50 re-application feeNoneRevoked for at least one year.
Driving Under the Influence - (Out-of-State)N/AN/ARevoked for at least 90 days. If less than 21 years of age, revoked at least one year.
Driving Under the Influence - (Out-of State) with any previous alcohol-drug violationN/AN/ARevoked for at least 90 days (longer term with certain prior offenses). If less than 21 years of age, revoked at least one year or until age 21 (longest term).

Q: Will they take my vehicle?

A: That is a very case-specific question. Different counties handle vehicle forfeiture differently. Some will only seek forfeiture after a second offense while others will seek forfeiture for even a first offense. We are ready to discuss the scenario specific to your situation to determine and work out the best possible outcome.

Q: What is Leandra's Law?

A: Leandra's Law was signed into law on November 18, 2009 in honor of Leandra Rosado. Leandra was an 11-year old who was killed while riding in a car with an individual who was intoxicated. This resulted in several changes to the law. One of these changes was to require any individual convicted of certain offenses to install an ignition interlock device on any car that they own or operate for a period of at least six months. As with anything else in the area of DWI laws, there are many different parts to Leandra's Law with different penalties. We will help you navigate through the minefield that is DWI laws. The Matera Law Firm lawyers served thousands of clients charged with DWI across Nassau and Suffolk counties of Long Island.