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What are the different alcohol/drug-related violations?

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.

There are two main charges for drivers who are accused of driving while they are under the influence of drugs: driving while impaired by a single drug and driving while impaired by a combination of two or more drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Drivers should also note that they can be charged for refusing to take a chemical test, which usually includes a breath, urine or blood test, under the state's implied consent law.

Because the alcohol and drug charges that an accused person may be facing varies by the different circumstances of each case, those who were accused of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol should seek legal advice. Depending upon the accused person's situation, an attorney may have a defense strategy that may reduce the charges or the severity of the penalties.

Source: New York State DMV, "Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations", November 21, 2014

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