Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for Per Se DWI

A “per se” DWI is based solely on the driver’s BAC—it doesn’t matter whether or not the driver was actually impaired by alcohol. A motorist can get a DWI in New York with the following BAC levels:

Under 21 Years Old .02% or more
At Least 21 Years Old .08% or more
Commercial License .04% or more

Also, drivers that operate a vehicle in New York with a BAC of .18% can be charged with an “aggravated DWI.”

And regardless of your BAC, you can get a DWI or DWAI (driving while ability impaired) if you drive with while impaired by alcohol. Similarly, if you drive while impaired by drugs, or combination of drugs and alcohol, you can be charged with a drug-DWAI.

Special rules apply to underage drivers (under 21 years old) who operate a vehicle in New York having ingesting drugs or alcohol.

How Many Drinks Does It Take?

It’s impossible to accurately say how many drinks it takes for a person to reach a certain BAC. This is because everyone absorbs and metabolizes alcohol at different rates.

However, you might be able to get a rough estimate of how drinks correspond to different BACs by looking at our BAC Chart or trying our BAC Calculator.

What If you Refuse to Take a Chemical Test in New York?

New York has “implied consent” laws that generally require all drivers to submit to a breath, blood, urine, or saliva test if asked to do so by an officer. Here are the license suspension periods for drivers who refuse testing:


1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Refusal to take test 1-year license suspension 18-month license suspension with a prior refusal or DWI conviction within the past 5 years 18-month license suspension with a prior refusal or DWI conviction within the past 5 years

Seek Legal Advise

New York DWI law is complex and consequences of a DWI conviction can be serious. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a DWI in New York, you should get in contact with an experienced DWI attorney who can talk to you about your situation. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible—immediate action might be necessary to protect your rights.

This is a republished article.

Original post is by John Mccurley of