Even though the crime of Driving While Intoxicated or DWI has a reputation for being a “common” or “minor” crime it is actually one of the most complex and technical areas of the criminal law in New York. Being accused of a violation of the New York DWI law carries serious criminal and civil consequences and anyone being charged with any section of the DWI law should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
How a case will proceed and the resulting consequences will depend on the actual section of the New York DWI law that a criminal defendant is accused of violating.
Common Law DWI – New York VTL 1192 (3)
A police officer is able to charge someone with violation of this statute even though there is no actual test of their blood alcohol level, someone refuses to take the test, or they take a test which registers “below the .08 limit.”
New York allows a police officer to testify that in their opinion a driver was intoxicated without having scientific evidence to back up their claim. This is a particular problem when someone does take the breath / blood test and registers “below the limit” but the police charge that person with DWI anyway. When this happens it is imperative that an attorney experienced in defending these types of cases is contacted so that an immediate record of the events is created in order to preserve the accused’s rights.
Statutory DWI – New York VTL 1192 (2)
This charge accuses a criminal defendant of driving while intoxicated based on scientific testing results that your blood alcohol level is above .08. These machines and tests are prone to error and there are ways to challenge the results in court. There are also defenses to the test results based on when the defendant’s last contact with alcohol was, and the time the test was administered.
Driving While Ability Impaired – New York VTL 1192 (1)
This is a lesser charge of the DWI law which says that a person was operating the vehicle while their ability is impaired by alcohol. There is no specific blood alcohol test result needed to convict someone under this section of the DWI law but at trial the police officer will need to prove specific facts and reasons why they believe the accused had their ability to drive impaired by alcohol. While a conviction for Driving While Ability Impaired is a violation, not a crime, and is punished differently than other sections of the DWI law it still carries similar license revocation penalties.
When there is a test result that registers a driver’s blood alcohol level above .18 they can be charged with the enhanced charge of Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated. Being charged under this section of the law will greatly influence the plea bargaining process and has increased license suspension consequences after conviction.
Someone charged with DWI who has a previous conviction for DWI [not driving while ability impaired] in the past ten years can be charged with felony DWI. This is a serious charge and depending on the circumstances of both the new and former DWI can lead to a period of incarceration.
In addition to the criminal consequences of being charged and possibly convicted of a DWI charge there are also repercussions for your ability to drive both during and after your criminal case ends.
Once someone is charged with driving while intoxicated and there is a certified test result claiming their blood alcohol level was above .08 [or they refused to take the breath / blood test] their license will be suspended during the pendency of the criminal case. Conviction of any section of the New York DWI law will also cause your license to be suspended / revoked for a period of time after the case is over.
You Need an Experienced Defense Attorney
Being charged with DWI will have serious consequences to both your criminal record and your ability to drive in New York. You need an attorney experienced in representing clients charged with DWI to explain your options and protect your rights. Alexander Restaino has extensive experience defending these types of cases in the New York City and Westchester Courts. Please contact our office for a free consultation.