Like other states, New York takes intoxicated driving very seriously. The penalties for the different alcohol- and drug-related offenses, however, vary widely in severity depending upon a number of different factors, including the amount of alcohol or drugs in the accused person's system and whether or not he or she has prior drug or alcohol convictions.
Someone whose blood alcohol level is determined to be .08 percent or greater may face a DWI, or driving while intoxicated, charge. If the person's BAC is .18 percent or higher, the severity of the charge increases to aggravated driving while intoxicated, which carries much heavier penalties. While the legal limit for alcohol consumption and driving is .08 percent, a driver can be deemed to be impaired by alcohol if their BAC is between .05 percent and .07 percent. Those who are younger than 21, which is the legal age to drink alcohol in the U.S., and who drive with a BAC between .02 percent and .07 percent may be charged under the state's zero-tolerance law.