How a DWI in New York Affects MA Drivers
New York is a relatively easy drive from Massachusetts. Although the two states’ sports teams may not get along, drivers visiting New York for business or pleasure will find much in common in terms of traffic patterns and driving habits. Bay Staters who get too comfortable driving in New York State could find themselves in trouble, especially if tagged for drunk driving.
Like Massachusetts, New York considers drunk driving a serious offense and a conviction means having a permanent criminal record. Drivers should not make the mistake of assuming that an out-of-state DUI will not affect them. Both states share information via an agreement known as the Driver’s License Compact. This means any convictions in NY will be communicated to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and ultimately appear on a Bay Stater’s driving record.
Below is an explanation of the consequences a Massachusetts driver will face as a result of being charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in New York and what can be done to avoid them.
Penalties for a DWI Conviction in NY
In Massachusetts, driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater can result in a DUI/OUI charge. Technically, the possible penalty range does not increase with the BAC content of the driver. New York is not like that; the greater the BAC of the driver, the more severe the fines and other penalties. New York has three classifications for drunk driving: driving while ability impaired (DWAI), driving while intoxicated (DWI) and aggravated driving while intoxicated (ADWI).
|0.02 to 0.07||DWAI
|$300 to $500||$260 to $400||Up to one year||Suspension for 90 days|
|0.08 to 0.017||DWI
|$500 to $1,000||$260 to $400||Up to one year||Revocation for six months|
|0.018 or more||ADWI
|$1,000 to $2,500||$260 to $400||Up to one year||Revocation for one year|
In addition to these penalties, a judge could also order the driver to attend a victim impact program and/or pay to install an interlock device.
Like Massachusetts, New York has a Zero Tolerance law which prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from getting behind the wheel with a 0.02 BAC or more. Drivers convicted face a $125 civil fine and a possible six-month suspension of driving privileges.
What a Suspension/Revocation in NY Means for MA Drivers
New York State has the power to suspend or revoke the right to drive within state limits as the result ofa conviction for drunk driving, but it cannot take away a Massachusetts license. However, in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90 Section 22(c), in response to a suspension in another state the RMV can choose to issue an indefinite suspension until the right to operate has been restored in the other state.
It’s also worth remembering that a drunk driving conviction remains on RMV records for the life of the driver. As part of the Driver’s License Compact, NY traffic convictions will appear on Massachusetts driving records, meaning a driver is not likely to catch a break just because the incident occurred out of state.
NY DWI Can Impact MA Auto Insurance
Regardless of the state in which it occurred, a drunk driving conviction can cause massive increases in a driver’s auto insurance. Insurers pull driving records of their customers periodically and will update premiums in response to a new conviction. One estimate showed Massachusetts drivers see a typical rate increase of 117 percent! This is nearly three times more than the median increase for New Yorkers (42 percent).
DWI is a Crime in NY
Both New York and Massachusetts consider a first offense of drunk driving a misdemeanor, although it can be charged as a felony in instances involving injury or death. Either way, a conviction means the driver will have a permanent criminal record. A criminal record in any state can affect one’s ability to get into college and/or obtain financing. It can also limit employment opportunities and affect where one can rent or buy a home. Massachusetts also prohibits the purchase of firearms to individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors and felonies. Like Massachusetts, New York does not expunge criminal records, meaning a conviction can affect a person’s life forever.
Why MA Drivers Should Hire a NY Lawyer
Facing a drunk driving charge in NY is not something a person should try to handle on their own. Prosecutors and judges alike are sharp and intelligent people with a good nose for lies and excuses. Even an honest person can find themselves doing more harm than good by attending a trial without legal counsel.
It is absolutely urgent that a Massachusetts driver charged with drunk driving in New York hire a qualified NY traffic attorney. A skilled attorney can evaluate the case and come up with a solid strategy to help minimize or avoid any fines, surcharges, jail time, and possible suspension. In many cases, the attorney can appear in court in lieu of the driver, meaning a Bay Stater may not need to come back to NY for the legal proceedings.
Adam H. Rosenblum, Esq. is the founder of TrafficTickets.com, a traffic ticket law firm that practices in both New York and New Jersey.