Can I drive in New York with a UK license?

The straightforward answer to this question is yes, you can drive in New York with a UK license but there are numerous considerations that you should be aware of if you are planning on driving in NYC.
If you are planning on becoming a resident in the US then you will require a State driver license. For short trips of up to 90 days (the period your ESTA authorizes you to stay in the US) then your UK license will legally enable you to drive.

Hiring a car in New York

If you are hiring a car then you will need to check the requirements of the car hire company and any restrictions that they may have. For example, some hire companies will only rent their vehicles to people that are over 21 years old. Not so long ago, it was common for hire companies to only hire cars to people aged 25 and over, so this has been relaxed in recent years.
You will find that some companies even allow car hire from the age of 18, but every company has different policies, so check the requirements of the one that you are planning on using. Additionally, some hire companies will require that you an International Drivers Permit, whilst other companies do not.
You can easily apply for an International Drivers Permit through Post Offices in the UK. You just need to make sure that you leave enough time to send it off and get it processed before your trip.
The driving laws in New York might be different to where you are used to driving so it is a good idea to download the drivers manual from the New York Department of motor vehicles.

Driving in other States outside of New York

Remember that some States have different laws and rules. Before driving abroad you should always check out the local laws for driving to see if there is any difference to what you are used to in your country of residence.
As an example of differences, in Alaska the State Driving Law says that you are not required to signal at roundabouts. There are also different rules in different States regarding use of mobiles, maximum speed limits or even keeping your driver’s license and ID on your person. Therefore, it is very important that you do your research regarding the State that you are driving in when you visit the United States.

Advice for driving in New York

New York City is one of the busiest cities in the world so if you have not had much practice of driving in foreign countries, especially on the right hand side of the road, you might find that it is very challenging driving in such a busy city.
In New York the Subway runs across the city and is one of the most popular and easiest ways to travel. So, if you are worried about driving in New York there are plenty of alternatives including yellow taxis that are available to call over on most streets.