In New York, Driving While Intoxicated and Driving Under the Influence are very serious crimes that carry with it, not only the prospect of jail time but also may affect your ability to drive ever again. Although the State (prosecution) bears the burden of proving the charge against you beyond a reasonable doubt, increased social, political and public scrutiny against those alleged to drink and drive, defending a driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated charge has become more complicated and the penalties upon conviction have become very harsh, possibly resulting in a permanent revocation.
A New York DWI/DWAI/DUI conviction may carry serious consequences, lasting for the rest of one’s life. However, not only do you have the right to defend yourself against any and all criminal charges you face but you should find a lawyer to thoroughly address any potential collateral consequences and the facts of your case. A collateral consequence can be anything from the loss of a commercial driver’s license to immigration consequences or the initiation of an investigation from Child Protective Services. Whether you’ve been charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Aggravated DWI, or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) Driving While Ability Impaired By Drugs, or Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs and Alcohol (combined) case, call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris for a free evaluation and price quote. In New York, the terms DUI and DWI are used interchangeably for the same offense and the nomenclature can be confusing at times.
“Should I Blow.” Although one should demand an attorney and exercise your right to remain silent before speaking to a Police Officer, by driving a car in New York drivers give implied consent to give a breath sample to a police officer who requests it from you. In New York, there are two primary consequences of refusing to submit to a chemical test (e.g., a breath or blood test). First, the refusal generally can be used against you at trial as consciousness of guilt evidence. Second, the refusal is itself a civil violation; something separate from the criminal charges. A civil proceeding will then occur before DMV Administrative Law judge and generally result in a driver’s license revocation and a civil penalty (fine). The civil (no jail time) sanction for refusing to submit to a chemical test are revocation of a driver’s license and penalties/fines.
The civil proceeding is usually referred to as a “refusal hearing.” If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you have the right to a due process hearing before your driver’s license can be suspended or revoked. Critically important information can be obtained at these hearings which can then be used in the criminal case (if the case is still pending).
Driving While Ability Impaired in New York, (DWAI) occurs if a person operates a motor vehicle while his or her ability to do so is impaired by the consumption of alcohol. Driving While Ability Impaired is a traffic infraction, not a crime, while DWI, DWAI Drugs and DWAI Combined Influence are crimes under New York State law. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWAI after trial in New York, you may suffer Fines, Surcharges, Victim Impact Panel, Mandatory alcohol and driving classes, License Suspension and/or Revocation and Up to 15 days in jail.
If you consumed alcohol prior to driving, it is quite likely that your blood alcohol content (BAC) might be over the legal limit. Even if you do not feel drunk, only had one glass of beer or wine and feel totally fine, your Blood Alcohol Content could be much higher than you think. In New York, if you drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated (VTL 1192-2). Driving while intoxicated in New York is a very serious crime, may result in the loss of one’s license and a conviction will become part of your lifetime driving abstract. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWI after trial in New York, you may suffer Fines, Surcharges, Victim Impact Panel, Mandatory alcohol and driving classes, License Suspension and/or Revocation and Up to 1 Year in Prison.
The higher your blood alcohol content, the more serious the offense can become. Also, as discussed below, an accident, injury or other circumstances may result in additional charges. If your Blood Alcohol Content is 0.18% or higher, you can be charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated (VTL 1192-2a), which is also a serious crime. If you plead guilty or are convicted, you may suffer Fines, Surcharges, Victim Impact Panel, Mandatory alcohol and driving classes, License Suspension and/or Revocation and Up to 1 Year in Prison.
If an officer pulls you over and determines that you are showing signs of being intoxicated, you may be charged with violating common law DWI/DUI (VTL 1192-3). This is usually accompanied by the common allegation of blood shot eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol emanating from the driver/automobile. This charge is very similar but is in addition to Driving While Intoxication (DWI) (VTL 1192-2) except this offense is not dependent on a Blood Alcohol Content or BAC reading.
The charging officer will allege common law DWI/DUI based on the officer’s observation, others’ observations (witnesses), police training, the officer’s police-experience and perception, including visible signs and smells. A conviction for New York common law driving while intoxicated/driving under the influence (VTL 1192-3) carries with it the same penalties discussed above.
“Am I entitled to a condition License” To be eligible for a conditional license, you must be eligible for, and participate in, the Drinking Driver Program (”DDP”). To be eligible for a conditional license, you must, among other things, be eligible for, and participate in the Drinking Driver Program (“DDP”) and not have any VTL § 1192 convictions within the past 5 years. The Defensive Driving Program is comprised of seven sessions and last between two to three hours for a total of 16 hours. The Program addresses traffic safely issues and how the consumption of alcohol and drugs relates thereto. However, there are numerous conditional license disqualification. To find out if you are eligible for a conditional license, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney (or with DMV).
A conditional license allows you to drive: To and from work and school and during work; To and from the drinking Driver Program and any related alcohol/drug treatment To and from probation; To and from DMV; To and from your child’s school or day care provider; To and from medical treatment; and For one 3-hour time period per week to run errands.
If you obtain a conditional of DWAI Drugs, you are not eligible for the return of your full driver license. However, if you are convicted of a moving violation (eg, speeding , no seat belt etc.) while on a conditional license, the conditional will be revoked by DMV.
Regardless of which offense you are convicted of, you might be required to install an ignition interlock device that would not allow your car to turn on until you blow into it and registered a Blood Alcohol Content below a certain amount.
Lastly, as with nearly all driving-related offenses, your insurance could become very costly. Furthermore, when you are convicted of drunk driving/driving under the influence of drugs in New York, your auto insurance carrier reserves the right to drop you completely (and in most cases will). Once the conviction appears on your driving record and you are dropped, it will be nearly impossible to get car insurance again. If you are fortunate enough to find a carrier who will take you, the premium could be nearly double what you were paying originally. Charges, however, don’t guarantee a conviction. You have rights, and, when it comes to building a defense, you have options.
Speak with The Law Offices of Cory H. Morris to learn more about your criminal defense options.