Ask any criminal defense attorney, and he or she will tell you that the crime that overwhelmingly drags the “average” person into the criminal justice system is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI, sometimes referred to as DUI). By average person, I mean someone who has generally never been in trouble with the law before, and now finds themselves in a terrible predicament, needing the services of a good DWI lawyer.
In addition to now being charged with a criminal offense, there are additional ramifications for a DWI charge in New York which go beyond penalties for almost any other type of crime charged. If there is a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading of .08 or higher, not only will you be charged with a misdemeanor, and be forced to go through being fingerprinted and photographed, but your license will be suspended at your arraignment while the case is still pending. If the case goes in your favor, you will get your license back.
However, if you are charged with DWI and refuse to take the breath test, there’s a separate civil penalty imposed by the DMV which is a revocation of your license for at least a year. This will stand regardless of what happens in your DWI case. You’re entitled to a hearing shortly after your arrest (called a “refusal hearing”) where your attorney can question the arresting officer and there is a small possibility of retaining your license.
These penalties are particularly hard on Long Islanders, because we all know it’s extremely difficult to live in Nassau or Suffolk without being able to drive a car. It’s not impossible, but it’s tough. It’s not the same as someone who lives in Manhattan and takes public transportation everywhere. This makes it so important to work closely with your DWI lawyer in preparing for your case.
There are generally two ways to attack an accusation of Driving While Intoxicated, because there are really only two elements to a DWI charge. In order for the prosecution to convict someone of DWI, they have to prove:
- That you were operating your car
- That you were intoxicated
Therefore, a DWI lawyer needs to go after one or both or those elements. If a jury is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of both of these elements, they have to find you not guilty. While this is a seemingly simple concept, it can be extremely complex. A prosecutor may be able to prove that someone was drinking and driving. OK, that’s fine. Drinking and driving is not a crime. That is, it is not against the law to drive your car after you’ve had a drink or two. It becomes illegal when that drinking has caused you to become intoxicated. So even proof of drinking and driving isn’t enough to convict.
There are many ways a good DWI lawyer can go after the prosecutor’s case. If there’s a BAC reading, a criminal defense lawyer can attack the manner in which the test was given, whether all the proper protocols and procedures were followed, whether the machine used was in proper working order, whether the margin of error in the results would bring you below a .08 BAC, and more. If there was no reading, that is if you refused, your lawyer can go after the circumstances of any car stop, why the officer believed you were intoxicated, whether there are innocent explanations for any suspicious behavior, whether there’s any additional proof of drinking or intoxication, etc.
Driving While Intoxicated in New York, as a first offense, carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail, along with associated fines, surcharges, and mandatory license revocation. It’s serious. Make sure you find a good DWI lawyer as soon as possible so they can do everything they can to try to keep you from losing your license and try to avoid a criminal conviction.
The Law Office of Glenn Kurtzrock is available to assist you with your criminal case. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call right now for a free consultation at (631) 539-1640, or visit our website at http://www.kurtzrocklaw.com