The holiday season is highly anticipated and filled with celebration, tradition, family and other social gatherings. At many of these occasions, alcohol is typically served. This being the case, traveling home after these events can become hazardous. Although an abundance of individuals feel sober enough to drive, we often underestimate the effects of alcohol. Operating a vehicle after consumption of alcohol can have serious consequences. These include criminal charges, a motor vehicle accident, severe injuries or even death. 

Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more is illegal in the state of New York. The higher the BAC, the greater the consequences. These charges can include Driving While Ability Impaired, Driving While Intoxicated, and Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated.

Listed Below are the Repercussions of Drunk Driving:

Driving While Ability Impaired is a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) §1192-1. The BAC ranges from 0.05%-0.07% and can result in a fine of up to $500, a 90 day license suspension, or possible jail time for up to 15 days. Additionally, the DMV imposes a $750 driver responsibility assessment fee.

Driving While Intoxicated is a violation of VTL §1192-3 and is a misdemeanor. The BAC for this charge is 0.08% or greater. This can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a minimum of $500, a 6 month license revocation and up to a year in jail. It also can include suspension of the license pending prosecution, potential session of victims impact program, installment of an interlock, $750 driver responsibly assessment fee and a 6 month revocation.

Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated is a violation of VTL §1192-2a and is a misdemeanor. The BAC of this charge is 0.18% or greater. This can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and a minimum of$1,000, one year license revocation and up to a year in jail. It also includes the installment of an interlock, a $750 driver responsibility assessment fee, and potential session of victim impact program.

A second conviction of §1192-2a or §1192-3 within 10 years is a class E felony. It often results in incarceration, long term license revocation, and significant fines and assessment fees.                                                                                 

Police officers have the right to stop your vehicle at any time with regards to reasonable suspicion. An officer may suspect a driver is under the influence by their driving abilities such as:

  • Driving at alternating speeds
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Drifting 
  • Erratic turns

Once pulled over, the police officer will further investigate the situation at hand. The officer is looking for an indication of impairment in the operant, this can be accomplished through a field sobriety test. 

Warning Signs of Impairment:

  • Slurred speech
  • Glazed eyes
  • Smell of alcohol
  • Delayed reactions to stimuli
  • Open alcohol containers in vehicle

The standardized field sobriety test may be conducted to confirm the impairment of the individual. It is composed of several tests, which include the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Both the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand evaluates the operant’s balance, whereas the horizontal gaze nystagmus identifies jerky eye movements.

If the police officer has reason to believe that the driver may be impaired or intoxicated by alcohol they can conduct a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer test can determine the BAC level of the operant, and the approximate amount of alcohol consumed. The State of New York has implemented an “Implied Consent” law which requires all drivers to comply with a breathalyzer test. Refusal to comply with the breathalyzer test will result in a criminal fee of up to $150 and additional surcharges. The DMV also imposes a civil fine of $500, and a mandatory one year license suspension.

The effects of driving while intoxicated have both immediate and long lasting consequences. Such repercussions can include:

  • Community service
  • Suspension of your license
  • Legal fees and fines
  • Enrollment in drinking/driving classes
  • A criminal record
  • Vehicle impoundment or revocation 
  • Increased insurance rates
  • Possible interlock system 
  • Jail time

In an effort to avoid these detriments, it is in your best interest to plan your transportation prior to the event. This can be accomplished by offering to be the designated driver, having a friend be the designated driver or arranging a driving service as your ride. Driving services such as Uber, Lyft, Curb and mytaxi are also viable options. These are made easily accessible through phone applications and can be utilized instantaneously for convenience.

Many of us fall under the illusion that it will never happen to us, but that is rarely the case. It is very easy to get into a situation that can leave lasting impressions on your life. When getting behind the wheel, you are putting yourself and others at risk. This holiday season, put others first and don’t drive under the influence of alcohol, regardless of the amount.

Have a safe and happy holiday!