Most Texas drivers are generally aware of the state’s harsh drunk driving laws. Texans who visit New York—be it for business or pleasure–should know that the Empire State is not much more lenient on impaired driving.
Like Texas, New York considers drunk driving more than a traffic violation—it is a criminal offense and a conviction for DWI in NY means having a permanent criminal record. Drivers should not make the mistake of assuming that an out-of-state DWI will not affect them. Both Texas and New York share information via an agreement known as the Driver’s License Compact. This means any convictions in NY will be communicated to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and ultimately appear on a Texan’s driving record.
Below is an explanation of the consequences a Texas driver will face as a result of being charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in New York and what can be done to avoid them.
Penalties for a DWI Conviction in NY
In Texas (and most states), driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater can result in a DWI charge. Penalties for DWI in Texas include a fine of up to $2,000, 180 days in county jail, and a suspension of a driver’s license for up to one year. The penalties are even harsher if the driver is found with a BAC of 0.15 or greater: up to $4,000 in fines and up to one year in jail.
New York is slightly different. Firstly, it has three distinct classifications for drunk driving: driving while ability impaired (DWAI), driving while intoxicated (DWI) and aggravated driving while intoxicated (ADWI). The specific charge depends on the driver’s BAC. Secondly, unlike Texas, New York considers it an offense to drive with BAC as low as 0.02.
Thirdly, in addition to the fine, drivers are also required to pay a separate surcharge to directly to the state. Lastly, in many cases, drivers who are convicted of DWI in New York can face more than a suspension—they can have their license revoked, meaning they must reapply for a new license (i.e. take the written and driving test again), with no guarantee of being approved.
The following chart shows the possible penalties for each level of DWI in New York:
|0.02 – 0.07||DWAI||$300 – $500||$260 – $400||Up to 1 year||Suspended for 90 days|
|0.08 – 0.17||DWI||$500 – $1,000||$260 – $400||Up to 1 year||Revoked for 6 months|
|0.18+||ADWI||$1,000 – $2,500||$260 – $400||Up to 1 year||Revoked for 1 year|
In addition to the above penalties, drivers are sometimes ordered to attend a victim impact program and/or pay to install an interlock device.
Like Texas, New York has a Zero Tolerance law which prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from getting behind the wheel with a 0.02 BAC or more. Drivers convicted face a $125 civil fine and a possible six-month suspension of driving privileges.
What a Suspension/Revocation in NY Means for TX Drivers
New York State has the power to suspend or revoke the right to drive within state limits as part of a conviction for drunk driving, but it cannot take away a Texas license. However, in accordance with Texas Transportation Code § 521.292, the DPS can suspend or revoke the license of any driver who is convicted of a traffic violation or crime that would be grounds for a suspension or revocation in Texas, which includes most charges of drunk driving!
It’s also worth remembering that a DWI conviction remains on DPS driving records for life! As part of the Driver’s License Compact, NY traffic convictions will appear on Texas driving records, meaning a driver is not likely to catch a break just because the incident occurred out of state.
NY DWI Can Impact TX Auto Insurance
Regardless of the state in which one drove drunk, a DWI conviction can have a huge impact on auto insurance premiums. One estimate showed Texas drivers see an average rate increase of 60%. Remember that a DWI remains on one’s Texas driving record forever, so once one is convicted their insurance rates can remain high for as long as the insurance provider is willing to hold it against them.
DWI is a Crime
Both New York and Texas consider a first offense of drunk driving a misdemeanor, although both states can charge it as a felony in certain instances. Either way, a conviction means the driver will have a permanent criminal record. Criminal convictions, like traffic convictions, can follow one across state lines. Having a criminal record can and will affect one’s ability to get into college and/or obtain financial aid. It can also limit employment and housing opportunities. Texas also bans the sale of firearms to anyone convicted of certain misdemeanors and felonies. Also, while Texas does allow persons to clear their criminal records over time, DWIs are not eligible for such action and can never be expunged or sealed.
Why TX Drivers With a NY DWI Should Hire a NY Lawyer
Unlike many traffic offenses, a DWI can have a lasting impact on one’s ability to drive, get a job, and obtain affordable car insurance. But a New York DWI must be fought in New York. That means a Texas driver charged with drunk driving in New York must hire a qualified NY traffic attorney. A skilled attorney can evaluate the case and come up with a solid strategy to help mitigate or avoid the fines, surcharges, jail time, and suspension risk. In some cases, the attorney can appear in court in lieu of the driver, meaning a Texan may not need to travel to NY for the legal proceedings.