Home > Insights > When is a DWI a Felony in New York?

When is a DWI a Felony in New York?

by | Sep 28, 2023

A DWI can come with serious consequences, especially if you’re facing felony charges. While a first DWI is typically charged as a misdemeanor, there are certain situations in which an offense of driving under the influence can be a felony. For instance, if there are aggravating circumstances present, or you have repeat offenses on your record, a DWI can rise to the level of a felony — and harsher penalties can be imposed.   

A DWI can be charged as a felony in New York under the following circumstances:

Repeat DWI Offenses

Although a first DWI is generally treated as a misdemeanor, repeat impaired driving offenses can be charged as felonies. Depending upon the number of prior convictions — and how long ago they occurred — you could face a charge for a Class E or D felony. Specifically, a second DWI within a ten year period is a Class E felony, which comes with a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 and up to four years in jail. More severe penalties can be imposed for a third DWI offense within ten years. A third offense within ten years can be charged as a Class D felony, punishable by a fine of $2,000 to $10,000 and up to seven years in jail.                

Leandra’s Law Violations

You can be charged with a felony under Leandra’s Law if you committed a DWI, DWAI, or DWAI/Combination while there was a child younger than 16 years old in the vehicle. In such cases, even a first-time DWI offender can be charged with a Class E felony, which can be punishable by up to four years in state prison. If your impairment by alcohol or drugs caused an accident that resulted in serious physical injury to the child, you can face Class C felony charges, which come with a sentence of 15 years in jail. In the event a DWI crash caused fatality to the child, you can be charged with a Class B felony and face 25 years in prison.

The DWI Resulted in Bodily Injury or Fatality

If you were involved in a DWI accident that resulted in bodily injury to another, you can be charged with the crime of vehicular assault — a Class E felony. The charges increase to a Class D felony if your driving under the influence caused an accident which resulted in the death of another. In addition, you can be charged with the crime of aggravated vehicular assault if your BAC (blood alcohol content) was above .18%, or you committed the offense while your license was revoked for a prior DWI. Aggravated vehicular assault is a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in jail. 

Operating a Commercial Vehicle Under the Influence

Commercial drivers have a lower BAC requirement — unlike regular motor vehicle operators who have a legal BAC limit of .08%, a commercial driver can face DWI if their BAC is .04%. Significantly, a commercial DWI may be a felony in certain cases, depending on the type of vehicle involved. A school bus driver can also face a felony charge if they were operating the vehicle under the influence with at least one student passenger on board. 

Contact an Experienced New York DWI Attorney  

If you have been accused of a felony DWI, it’s essential to have the representation of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can fight the charges against you. The attorneys at D’Emilia Law offer experienced advocacy to those who are facing DWI offenses and work to obtain the best possible outcomes in each of their cases. To schedule a consultation, contact us at 1-888-DEMILIA.

DWI Felony
Assault Charges

Understanding Assault Charges in New York

Being charged with an assault in New York is a serious matter — and a conviction can have a wide range of consequences on your life and livelihood. From employment opportunities to finding housing, obtaining a professional license, and retaining your right to possess...
Weapons Crimes

Weapons Crimes in New York

New York has some of the strictest weapons laws in the nation. Critically, not only can being convicted of a weapon crime lead to a criminal record, but it can also result in the long-term ramifications that come with one — impacting both your daily life and...
Rights Crime

What are Your Rights if You’ve Been Charged with a Crime?

Regardless of the crime with which you’ve been charged, it’s essential to understand that you have certain rights under the U.S. Constitution and the New York State Constitution. These rights are meant to protect against arbitrary treatment by the government and...
DWI Attorney

Do You Need an Attorney for a DWI Charge?

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in New York, you may be wondering whether you should have the representation of an attorney. Critically, being charged with driving under the influence in New York can have a long-lasting impact on your life and...
Drug Treatment Court

What is Drug Treatment Court — and is it an Option in My Case?

If you were arrested for a non-violent drug crime, you may be eligible for drug treatment court. This is a voluntary alternative to the regular court process that allows non-violent, drug-addicted offenders to enter into a treatment program, and potentially avoid...

Types of DWI Offenses in New York State 

Being charged with the offense of driving while intoxicated can be stressful and overwhelming. However, it’s important to understand that the consequences you may face can depend upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the DWI — and the specific offense with...
Ghost Gun

Understanding New York’s Ghost Gun Laws

New York has some of the toughest firearms laws in the nation. While strict penalties are imposed for possessing an unregistered firearm, legislation was enacted in 2022 that strengthened the state’s laws regarding ghost guns. These types of guns are those that do not...
Search Warrant

What is a Search Warrant? 

Most people are aware that the police are usually prohibited from searching a premises or person without a warrant under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. A search warrant is a court order issued for the purpose of authorizing law enforcement to conduct a...

Is a Warrantless Search Ever Permissible?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unlawful searches and seizures by law enforcement. As a general rule, before police can search your person, home, or vehicle, they must have probable cause for the search — and obtain a valid...
New York DWI Cases

Can the Necessity Defense Be Used in DWI Cases in New York?

Driving under the influence is a very serious offense in New York that requires a skillful and strategic defense. Critically, one of the defenses that may be available to those who have been charged with the offense of driving under the influence is the “necessity...