Protecting the Legal Rights of People Who Have Been Accused of Drunk Driving
According to statistics released by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services, there were more than 36,000 adults arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in 2014. Criminal offenses related to driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol are a serious matter and can result in severe legal penalties. In addition, many people who are convicted of drunk driving have a criminal record that can affect their professional and personal life for years to come. Fortunately, in many cases, the help of a skilled New York DWI defense attorney can have a significant impact on the outcome of a case and may result in the allegations against you being completely dropped.
While many people use the terms DUI, DWI, and drunk driving interchangeably, New York law only recognizes two criminal offenses related to drunk driving – Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving with Ability Impaired (DWAI). The offense DWI occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater while a driver can be convicted of DWAI with a BAC of between .05 and .08. While DWAI is a less serious offense, it still carries the potential for significant penalties, including jail time. In addition, any offense related to alcohol can create problems at work or school.
The New York DUI/DWI Process
A DWI case in New York generally begins when a driver is pulled over by a police officer. The initial traffic stop could be made because the officer believes that the driver may be under the influence of alcohol because of the way in which he or she is driving or it could be made for a completely unrelated reason such as a broken headlight or expired tags. Regardless of the reason, if the officer suspects that the driver has been drinking, he or she will investigate the matter further, usually by requesting that the driver perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) or by administering a breathalyzer or other form of chemical testing in order to determine the driver’s BAC.
If the officer believes that the driver is over the legal limit, he or she will arrest the driver, place them in police custody, and the driver may need to post bail before being released from custody. An arraignment date will be set, at which the driver must appear and enter a plea. At this point, a future court date will be set for either a trial on the issue or sentencing, depending on how the driver pleads.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
Penalties for DWAI or DWI can be serious and significantly increase if you have multiple offenses. They often include the following:
- Community service
- The mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device
- Mandatory alcohol and drug education
- The revocation of your driver’s license
A New York DUI/DWI Defense Attorney Can Help
There are many potential defenses that a skilled attorney can raise in a New York DWI or DWAI case. These include the following:
- Introducing evidence that any signs of intoxication that were observed were caused by a medical condition
- Calling into question the results of any chemical testing that was performed
- Impeaching the credibility of the arresting officer’s account of your condition
- Challenging the legal validity of the initial stop
Whether these or any other defenses apply in your case depends on a number of factors, and the fact that there are defenses available may not be clear to individuals without legal training. For this reason, it is extremely important for anyone that has been accused of drunk driving to have their case thoroughly evaluated by an experienced lawyer prior to taking any legal action in regard to their case.
Call Hirsch & Hirsch, LLP Today to Retain Legal Representation
If you have been accused of a drunk driving offense in New York State, you are facing extremely serious legal consequences. As a result, it is extremely important to speak with an attorney about your legal options as soon as possible. It is important to remember that a DWI arrest does not have to result in a DWI conviction, and there are often many ways in which a skilled attorney can help people who are facing allegations of drunk driving. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call Hirsch & Hirsch at 516-486-8500. If you prefer to send us an email, please fill out and submit our online contact form available here.