The Dangers of Drinking and Driving in New York State

Even a Little Alcohol is Too Much Alcohol

If you think that it is safe to drive after having consumed only a small amount of alcohol, euphemistically referred to as merely “social drinking”, the facts and statistics on this page may surprise you. Recently, the New York State Bar Association published a brochure demonstrating the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol, and here are some of the Bar Association’s findings:

  • One third of the fatalities in New York State involve impaired or intoxicated drivers and pedestrians.

  • A driver with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08 is four times as likely to cause an accident as a driver who has not been drinking. A driver with a BAC of .16 is 25 times as likely to do so.
  • Young drinking drivers are at the highest risk of all. Drivers 20 years old or younger are almost 3 times as likely to be involved in alcohol related fatal crashes than other drivers.
  • Any amount of drinking will affect your judgment and coordination, and reduce your ability to judge distances, speeds, and angles.
  • The degree of impairment depends on four basic factors: 1) The amount you drink; 2) Whether you’ve eaten before or while drinking (food slows absorption); 3) Your body weight; and 4) The length of time spent drinking.
  • The only way to reduce your BAC is to wait for your body to metabolize (eliminate) it.
  • Every county in New York State has a STOP-DWI program.

  • If you are stopped by an officer who believes that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be asked to take a field sobriety test. If you are arrested for allegedly being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will be asked to take a chemical test for BAC (i.e., blood alcohol content).
  • BAC is the measure of concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood.
  • License penalties for drinking and driving are different for people who are under 21 vs. people who are 21 and older.
  • Your privilege to drive or apply for a license will be suspended if you are found guilty of using a non-driver identification card or NY State Driver’s License to illegally purchase alcohol under the age of 21. (Motorboat and snowmobile operators under the age of 21 are subject to similar penalties and sanctions against their operating privileges.)
  • The law prohibits a plea to a non-alcohol or drug-related violation.
  • Refusal to take a chemical test for BAC will result in a license suspension at a DMV hearing and a civil penalty of $300. Drivers under 21 years old are subject to 1 year license revocation and a $300 civil penalty.
  • Drivers holding a CDL (i.e., Commercial Driver’s License) are held to stricter BAC standards and face tougher penalties, while operating a vehicle that requires a CDL license.
  • The Zero Tolerance Law makes it illegal for a driver under the age of 21 to consume any alcohol.
  • The ignition interlock program can be a condition of probation due to an alcohol or drug related license revocation.
  • The ignition interlock device connect to the motor vehicle ignition system and measure the alcohol content on the on the operator’s breath. It prevents the vehicle from being started until the driver provides an appropriate sample breath.
  • Some penalties for DWI and DWAI include annual payments to the Department of Motor Vehicles each year for an appointed number of years.

At Martin Colin, P.C., our experienced DWI lawyers zealously protect you.  If you have been charged with drinking and driving, give us a call at (914) 771 7711 or email by using the ‘Contact Us’ form on this webpage.