New York is cracking down on drivers who operate vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In the past, offenders could often get away with only a slap on the wrist, but today law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges are intent on arresting and punishing offenders.
The consequences of being convicted of a drug or alcohol-related driving offense are serious. Punishment can include: jail time, hefty fines, license suspension or revocation, community service, and/or the forced installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. In fact, in NYC, if you are found guilty of, or otherwise plead guilty to an alcohol related offense, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle, or a vehicle of another that lives in your home that you have access to. If you don't own a vehicle, or have sold it since your DWI arrest, there may be ways to avoid the IID installation requirement and so you should speak with a lawyer to discuss same.
Other non-legal consequences can also flow from a DUI conviction – offenders’ insurance rates increase dramatically, and a misdemeanor conviction can result. Having a misdemeanor conviction on your record will give you a permanent criminal record which can negatively impact your employment prospects, your ability to find housing and other things not related to driving. Once you have a misdemeanor on your record, there is no "second bite at the apple" so to speak, as New York does not allow expungements (except in very narrow instances, such as some drug related offenses) like some other state do.
New York has many different statutes that criminalize operating a motor vehicle (meaning anything with a motor, including boats, not just cars) under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): In New York, a person with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater who operates a motor vehicle is considered to be driving while intoxicated (DWI).
- A lower 0.04 limit applies for drivers who operate a commercial vehicle (such as a tow truck, bus, or tractor trailer).
- Zero Tolerance: Drivers under 21 years of age are considered impaired if they have a BAC of 0.02.
- Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (Aggravated DWI): Drivers who have a BAC of 0.18 or more can be charged with Aggravated DWI. This triggers harsher penalties than a non-aggravated DWI.
- Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol): Drivers with a BAC between .05 BAC and .07 BAC, or other evidence of impairment, can be charged with DWAI. This is technically a traffic infraction and not a crime in New York, but it is still a serious charge and an alcohol related offense, which can cause a person to lose their job if they drive for a living.
- Driving While Ability Impaired by a Single Drug other than Alcohol (DWAI/Drug)
- Driving While Ability Impaired by a Combined Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (DWAI/Combination)
- Chemical Test Refusal: New York drivers should be aware that the state’s “Implied Consent Law” requires motorists to submit to chemical testing if an officer suspects you of driving under the influence. Designed to calculate blood alcohol content (BAC), chemical tests detect the amount of alcohol found in a driver’s breath, blood, or urine. The Implied Consent Law makes it illegal for a driver to refuse to submit to chemical testing, and the penalties for refusing a chemical test can be more severe at a DMV Hearing than for failing a chemical test. In addition, refusing to take a chemical test does not prevent an officer from issuing a DUI citation, nor does it ensure a prosecutor will be unable to convict you of DUI.
Being charged with DWI or other drug or another alcohol-related offense does not mean you will be convicted. However, the state will do all in its power to attempt to convict you.
Although each case is unique, and we cannot guarantee a certain result in any individual case, there are a number of defenses an experienced attorney can help you employ to fight a DWI charge.The law requires the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty and they must prove every element of the crime. If the state does not have the evidence to support its charge against you, conviction is unconstitutional. Thus, attacking the state’s evidence is often an effective defense tactic.
As mentioned above, the state most often relies on chemical testing to determine BAC. Despite being widely used, these tests are not 100% accurate. Often times these chemical tests are also improperly administered or the results thrown into question by incorrect handling. If the state’s case is built on a questionable chemical test, the likelihood of conviction is significantly decreased.
The state may also present evidence obtained during a field sobriety test – such as failure to walk a straight line, inability to stand on one leg and count to 30, or the inability to recite the alphabet backwards. These tests are notoriously inaccurate, and can also be successfully challenged. It is rare that someone is convicted for failure to pass a field sobriety test without other evidence of intoxication. Other officer-observed behavior, such as driving at inconsistent speeds or swerving, is also subject to attack by your criminal defense attorney.
If you have been charged with a DWI or other drug or alcohol-related driving offense, it is vital that you seek the legal services of a competent criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact Brooklyn criminal defense attorney Michael Redenburg for a consultation about your case. Allow Michael Redenburg to evaluate your case, answer your questions and explain your options.