Aggravated DWI New York – All You Need to Know

Aggravated DWI New York – All You Need to Know

On Behalf of vitalianolaw | Jan 01, 2024 |

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is illegal in New York and every other state in the country. A driver who operates their vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol puts themselves and others at risk, and an impaired driver is substantially more likely to cause a serious accident than a sober driver. It is possible for a driver to face a DWI charge even if they did not actually do anything wrong. If a police officer believes they have probable cause to conduct an arrest, this can feel incredibly unfair to a driver. However, fault is clearer in some cases than others, and some New York drivers commit severe violations of the state’s DWI laws.

An “aggravated” DWI is any DWI that exceeds the definition of a standard DWI offense. For example, state law dictates that if a driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is over .08%, this constitutes a DWI offense. The BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04%, and any detectable BAC can lead to a DWI charge for a driver under 21. If a driver’s BAC is over .18%, they will automatically qualify for prosecution for aggravated DWI in New York. It’s also possible for a driver to face an aggravated DWI charge if they caused a severe injury, death, or if they are currently on probation for a prior DWI conviction.

New York Aggravated DWI

Though many people drive every day to get to work, school, and social activities, few realize that they can risk others’ lives by doing so. When a driver chooses to drive while intoxicated (DWI), they risk their own health and safety as well as the safety of others on the roads and sidewalks. Because of this, DWIs are illegal and punishable in criminal court.

When most people think of DWIs, they think of drunk driving. However, alcohol is not the only way that a driver can be impaired. Drug use can also lead to unsafe driving and still qualifies the driver for a DWI charge. Though there are fewer ways to reliably test for drug use, drivers should always be careful and avoid driving while under the influence of any controlled substance.

The punishments for a standard DWI are strict and severe, but they can be made worse with additional circumstances. Being charged with an aggravated DWI comes with additional punishments and consequences that it is important to be prepared for.

The best way to navigate a DWI, aggravated or not, is with the help of a New York DWI attorney. We can help you to build your defense case and help you to avoid serious punishments.

DWI Basics

A driver can be charged with a DWI if they have been caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. Because everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, there is no definitive number of alcoholic drinks that get someone to that point. Because of this, it is important to be very aware of your limits and your BAC before getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking.

A driver may also be charged with a DWI if they are found driving under the influence of drugs of any kind. Though cannabis is recreationally legal in New York, drivers are still not permitted to drive while under the influence of cannabis in any amount.

What Is an Aggravated DWI?

Most criminal offenses can be aggravated if the situation is particularly severe or there is the presence of a weapon. In the case of a DWI, the offense is considered aggravated if the driver has a blood alcohol content of .16% or higher. This level is twice the standard legal limit of .08%.

A driver may also be charged with an aggravated DWI if they hurt or killed someone during the offense. Even if their BAC is at .08%, causing significant bodily harm or death is a reason to increase the intensity of the charges. In these cases, the DWI is often considered a felony rather than a misdemeanor, regardless of how many DWIs the offender has on their record.

Finally, a driver may face aggravated DWI charges if they were on probation at the time of the DWI arrest. Those on probation have strict rules to follow, including limits on alcohol and drug use. Being arrested for a DWI, therefore, is not just a DWI offense but also a violation of the terms of their probation.

Fighting an Aggravated DWI Charge

If you are being charged with an aggravated DWI, you need a qualified attorney to help you. These situations are serious, and you face significant punishments if the court finds you guilty. It is important to remember that an arrest does not make you guilty. In fact, many DWI charges result from illegal traffic stops, faulty breathalyzers, and other factors. When you have a DWI defense attorney on your side, you can fight these charges and ensure that you do not face unfair punishment.

Not all DWI attorneys are the same. It is important to find someone with significant experience and understanding in this area. Our team at The Vitaliano Law Firm provides expert legal advice for New Yorkers facing DWI and aggravated DWI charges.

Aggravating Vs. Mitigating Factors in a Criminal Case

In every criminal case in New York, the penalties a defendant could face if convicted can fluctuate significantly based on the specific details of a case. Judges handling criminal sentencing throughout the boroughs of New York City have relatively broad discretion to adjust defendants’ sentences as they see fit after evaluating all the facts and evidence of the case. When it comes to the details of your DWI case, aggravating factors work against you while mitigating factors work in your favor.

When a judge identifies multiple aggravating factors in a criminal case, they are more likely to seek the maximum allowable penalties for the defendant. Aggravating factors include high BAC, causing serious injury or death, and violating probation for a prior DWI conviction. Mitigating factors encourage a judge to consider leniency. For example, if the defendant did not hurt anyone and shows clear signs of an advanced substance abuse disorder, the judge could recognize that they need treatment and counseling, not incarceration.

An experienced private defense attorney is the best asset to have on your side if you are charged with any level of DWI offense in New York. If you committed the offense, your attorney could potentially help you plea bargain down to a lighter sentence. If you did not, they would be essential for establishing an alibi and/or disproving the prosecution’s evidence. Ultimately, no two DWI cases are exactly alike, and it’s vital to find defense counsel from an attorney willing to provide individualized and responsive advice throughout all phases of your case.

The Vitaliano Law Firm has helped many defendants throughout New York City avoid conviction and reduce penalties for various DWI offenses. We know how local prosecutors handle these cases, the tactics they often use to secure convictions, and the common challenges defendants face in these cases. You’re likely to have lots of pressing legal questions after an arrest for aggravated DWI in New York. Remember to exercise your right to remain silent until you have the opportunity to exercise your right to legal counsel and connect with a defense attorney you can trust with your case.


What Is the Penalty for Aggravated DWI in New York?

Any driver tested who has a BAC of .18% or more automatically qualifies for an aggravated DWI charge. The minimum penalties for conviction include a fine between $1,000 and $2,500, up to a year of incarceration in county jail, and a one-year revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license. Penalties will increase automatically if the defendant has a prior DWI conviction within the past five years and/or if they hurt or killed anyone while driving while intoxicated.

Is There Any Way to Avoid Jail for an Aggravated DWI in New York?

Under New York law, a district attorney cannot reduce an aggravated DUI down to a regular DUI through plea bargaining. Judges handling sentencing in DWI cases have broad discretionary power to adjust a defendant’s sentence as they see fit. For the best chance of avoiding jail or at least minimizing your incarceration term, it’s vital to have an experienced defense attorney handling your case.

How Can a DWI Be Reduced in New York?

Some defendants, typically those who are charged with their first DWI offenses and have not harmed anyone through their actions, may qualify for reduced charges. A DWI that would qualify as a misdemeanor could potentially be reduced to the level of a driving while ability impaired (DWAI) violation. This type of offer won’t be offered to every defendant, and you will need an experienced DWI defense attorney to advise you as to the best attainable result to your case.

Is It Worth Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney?

It is always worth hiring legal representation you can trust when you have been charged with any criminal offense. A public defender may be available free of charge, but these court-appointed defense attorneys must handle multiple cases at once and cannot offer their clients much individual attention. Investing in the services of an experienced private defense attorney can ensure a much higher level of defense representation in your case.

Can I Have an Aggravated DWI Case Dismissed?

New York prosecutors take aggravated DWI cases very seriously. It would be very unlikely for any driver charged with aggravated DWI to have their case dismissed entirely unless clear violations of criminal justice procedure are confirmed to have occurred. If you believe your rights have been violated or that the charges against you are unfounded in any way, it is crucial to discuss your concerns with a defense attorney as soon as possible after the arrest.

Can an Aggravated DWI Be Reduced in NYS?

No. New York law states that a district attorney is not permitted to reduce aggravated DWI charges as part of a potential plea deal. The only way to potentially reduce your charges or minimize your punishment is by calling the validity of the breathalyzer test, blood test, or field sobriety test into question. However, the prosecution cannot minimize your charges if you plead guilty.

What Are the Charges for an Aggravated DWI in NY?

The punishments for DWIs of any kind, including aggravated DWIs, depend on the driver’s record. If it is the driver’s first offense, they face a fine between $1,000 and $2,500 and up to a year in jail. For second offenses, they face a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to four years in jail. For third offenses, a fine between $2,000 and $10,000 and up to seven years in jail is normal.

What Does Aggravated DWI Mean in New York?

An aggravated DWI in New York can mean one of three things. It may mean that the driver’s blood alcohol content was .16% or higher. It can also mean that the driver hurt or killed someone during their DWI. It may also mean that the driver was on probation at the time of the arrest. In some states, an individual can also be charged with an aggravated DWI if there is a minor in the car.

Is Aggravated DWI a Felony in New York?

Yes. Generally, DWIs are considered “wobbler” offenses. They can either be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances. Aggravated DWIs are considered a felony, regardless of how many DWIs the driver has on their record. An aggravated DWI is a circumstance in which a DWI is considered a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Contact The Vitaliano Law Firm

For many years, our firm, led by attorney Michael Vitaliano, has been defending the people of New York from unfair charges. If you are facing aggravated DWI charges, we are your best option for legal representation. With a strong track record, you can trust us with your story and your future.

For more information, contact The Vitaliano Law Firm online today.

The Vitaliano Law Firm can provide the criminal defense representation you need when you are charged with aggravated DWI or any other DWI offense in New York City. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about the legal services we provide.