DWI Penalties: Are They Strict Enough? (Poll)

Heading into one of the busiest nights for DWI enforcement we ask you if New York's existing penalties are sufficient.

New Year's Eve is one of the busiest times of year for DWI enforcement, as police head out in full force to protect potentially drunk drivers from hurting themselves and other motorists on a night that typically involves drinking alcohol.

With that in mind, we want to know if you think the state's laws are strict enough.

New York law says driving under the influence will not be tolerated on the state's roadways. Those who violate that law may face a fine, time in jail and license suspension.

Penalties for DWI also increase with each conviction, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The maximum penalites are as follows:

  • First conviction, misdemeanor -- One year license suspension if under 21; six-month suspension if over 21. Fines between $500 and $1,000. Up to one year in jail.  
  • Second conviction, within 10 years, Class E Felony -- License suspended for one year or until 21 years old, whichever is longer; one year suspension if over 21. Fines between $1,000 and $5,000. Up to four years in jail.
  • Third conviction, within 10 years, Class D Felony -- Same license revocation laws as above. Fines between $2,000 and $10,000. Up to seven years in jail. 
  • Any driver convicted of a DWI must install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), a mechanism installed on the dashboard of a vehicle, for at least six months following the conviction. The operator must breathe into it before starting the vehicle and if the breath-alcohol content (BAC) is over a certain amount the car will not start, according to Ignition Interlock Device Org. The requirement of an IID is a new weapon in the state's DUI penalty arsenal.

New York's DWI Fatality Stats

The number of DWI-related fatalities in New York in 2010 placed the state 24th in the nation, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) .

In the past five years alone there have been 1,845 fatalities related to drunk driving in New York; 364 of those occurred in 2010. MADD also reports that 30 percent of traffic deaths in 2010 were caused by DWIs. 

With these stats in mind, do you think the state's DWI penalties are strict enough? Log your answer in our poll and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Francis T McVetty July 27, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Timothy, [demonstrating the skills and knowledge to drive safely.] not in this country, You call what the DMV gives as a driving test, a real test. Most of the drivers that are tested could have been blind folded at the time. Speak to someone from Germany about how tough their driving test is. Driving tests in our country are a joke. Think I'm wrong, just look at the drivers on the road the next time you are out there.
Francis T McVetty July 27, 2012 at 10:43 PM
booger_face, how do you come to the conclusion " Since "harsh penalties" is not the answer, our time is better spent discussing what *is*" . Where are the HARSH penalties? I see everyday, people that have one or two previous convictions coming through the system. Do you consider that HARSH? It is time to enforce the laws. Jail time if necessary. How many lives do you think would be saved every year with stricter enforcement?
Aidan July 27, 2012 at 11:21 PM
I've got one ... but I treat it like a car ... not a rocket.
Bjorn Olsson July 28, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Francis, we agree, did you ever think this would happen? When I took my driver's test in NY I could not believe how simple it was. Twenty questions, multiple choice, most of them about alcohol and drugs. No test on traffic signs, right of way rules or which side of the road to drive on.
Francis T McVetty July 28, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Jack, some stats [In 2009, there were 10,839 fatalities in crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher – 32 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year. Traffic fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes decreased by 7.4 percent from 11,711 in 2008 to 10,839 in 2009. The alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased to 0.36 in 2009 from 0.39 in 2008. An average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes in 2009.


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