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Out-of-state drivers need to be particularly wary of New York DWIs

This holiday season countless motorists will hit the roads as they travel the nation’s highways to celebrate with family and friends. In particular, drivers in the Northeast will likely traverse several states as they journey to important holiday gatherings. However, as holiday revelers cross state borders, it is crucial for them to remember that driving while intoxicated (DWI) convictions can carry harsh consequences in neighboring states, especially in New York.

For instances, out-of-state drivers visiting family in New York, such as drivers from New Jersey or Connecticut, may face severe penalties if convicted of a New York DWI – penalties that will be assessed not only by New York but possibly by their home states as well.

Consequences of DWIs in New York for New Jersey drivers

New York law states that no person "shall operate a motor vehicle while such person" has a blood-alcohol-concentration of 0.08 percent or above. Importantly, this law applies to both New York drivers as well as non-resident drivers. In fact, under the New York DWI statute, a non-resident driver convicted of a DWI will have his or her privilege to operate a motor vehicle in New York revoked for a minimum of six months. Additionally, the minimum fine for a DWI conviction in New York is $500.

However, for non-resident drivers from New Jersey, the penalties assessed by New York are just the beginning of their troubles. For example, after a New York DWI conviction of a New Jersey resident is reported to New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission, the commissioner will administratively suspend the driving privileges of the New Jersey driver. This suspension typically lasts for seven months if the New York DWI conviction was the New Jersey driver’s first offense, but can increase substantially if he or she has prior offenses. Moreover, a state-imposed surcharge will likely be levied upon the New Jersey driver at a rate of $1,000 per year for three years.

In addition, a New York DWI conviction of a New Jersey driver can be used to enhance the penalties of any subsequent New Jersey drunk driving conviction for the same driver.

New York DWIs by Connecticut drivers

Interestingly, if a Connecticut driver is convicted of a New York DWI, it may also be considered a "prior conviction" under Connecticut law. Essentially, this means that if the Connecticut driver is ever subsequently convicted of a second drunk driving offense in Connecticut within 10 years, the penalties will be enhanced. However, in order for the New York DWI to be considered a prior offense, the offense must be "substantially" similar to a Connecticut drunk driving offense. But, given that both states have BAC driving limits of 0.08 percent, this is typically not a difficult burden to meet.

Furthermore, if a Connecticut driver already has a prior drunk driving conviction in Connecticut, any subsequent New York DWI conviction will likely result in a Connecticut license suspension in accordance with Connecticut state law.

Ultimately, given the potential severity of DWI penalties for out-of-state drivers in New York, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced New York DWI defense attorney from the onset of charges. A knowledgeable attorney can assist in defending you against the charges and help ensure your rights are protected.