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What types of impaired driving charges are there?

In New York there are a number of crimes that an individual could be charged with when it comes to drunk driving. These laws use one's blood-alcohol content or whether one has engaged in underage drinking to determine the criminal charges the individual will face.

If an individual's blood alcohol content level is 0.08 or above, he or she may be charged with driving while intoxicated, or DWI. In addition, if an individual is operating a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of 0.04 percent or higher, this could lead to a charge of driving while intoxicated. Moreover, if an individual's blood alcohol content level is 0.18 or above, he or she may be charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Some New Yorkers may think that if their blood alcohol content level is less than 0.08 that they cannot be charged with a crime. However, depending on the circumstances, this may not be true. If an individual's blood alcohol content level is over 0.05 percent but is under 0.07 percent and the police think that there is other evidence that the individual has been driving while under the influence of alcohol, the individual may be charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol.

Moreover, if police believe that an individual has been driving under the influence of a drug, they may charge the individual with driving while ability impaired by a single drug other than alcohol. If the police believe an individual has consumed both drugs and alcohol, that individual could be charged with driving while ability impaired by a combined influence of drugs or alcohol.

Finally, if an individual operates a motor vehicle while drunk, and he or she is under the legal drinking age of 21, he or she may be in violation of the state's zero tolerance law. This may take place if the driver's blood alcohol content level is as low as 0.02 percent or as high as 0.07 percent.

Depending on an individual's weight, the number of drinks he or she had, his or her gender and whether the individual has eaten while drinking could all factor into an individual's blood-alcohol content level. In general, one's system will process alcohol at an approximate rate of a single alcoholic beverage each hour. Since there can be many factors that can lead to drunk driving charges, some of which are subjective, it is important that you are not charged with a crime that you did not commit.

Source: New York Department of Motor Vehicles, "Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations," accessed March 18, 2016

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