Suffolk County DWI Defense Attorney
Driving while under the influence in New York is a serious offense and can carry lifelong ramifications. Formally called Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), this crime can result in stiff fines, a suspended license, and, in some cases, even jail time.
Suffolk County takes a hard stance against intoxicated drivers, whether they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Moreover, because Suffolk County has experienced more alcohol-related crashes than any other county in New York (with numbers increasing every year since 2001), Suffolk County prosecutors use the full extent of the law to punish offenders at the highest possible degree.
For these reasons and more, the system is quite biased against DWI offenders, whereas first-time offenses can produce long-lasting, detrimental effects on nearly every aspect of your life. Unfortunately, the common course of action is to treat offenders as guilty before the facts are presented, which is why you need an experienced and aggressive DWI attorney at your side who can fortify your legal defense.
We can help at every stage in your case as your staunch advocate and knowledgeable counsel in areas such as:
- DWI penalties
- Underage DWI
- Field Sobriety Tests
- DUI Checkpoints
- Commercial DWI
- DWAI (Drug DWI)
- Revoked and Suspended Licenses
- DMV License Suspension Hearings
- Ignition Interlock Program
- DWI Defense Strategies
Definition of DWI in New York
Strangely enough, defining DWI in New York is both simple and considerably difficult. The easy explanation is that law enforcement can charge a driver aged 21 and older with a DWI if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. For drivers behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle, the threshold for DWI is .04%. Drivers under the age of 21 can receive a DWI charge if their BAC is above .02%, which is almost equivalent to a 150 pound man driving 30 minutes after drinking one beer.
The definition of DWI in New York becomes more nuanced when drugs are involved. Based upon the BAC and other factors, drivers in Suffolk County can also receive charges based on the following:
DWAI/Alcohol – This is the official charge for Driving While Ability Impaired, specifically due to alcohol.
DWAI/Drugs – A charge given to a driver who’s ability to drive has been impaired by drugs
DWAI/Combination – A charge given to drivers under a combination of drugs and alcohol
Aggravated DWI – Also known as A-DWI, this is an offense given to a driver who’s BAC is .18% or higher.
Knowing the exact penalty for a DWI or DWAI charge can be difficult to determine, as additional drug crimes, chemical test refusals, and breaking the Zero Tolerance Law all influence the severity of the punishment. Additionally, DWI penalties also depend on age, the type of driver license, whether the driver submitted to a chemical test, and previous convictions.
DWI and DWAI Penalties
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 33 percent of all drivers arrested or convicted of a DWI each year are repeat offenders. Second and third offenses (and for some drivers, fourth and fifth) can carry serious penalties, while there is a tiny amount of leniency granted towards first offenders.
Drivers 21 and older with a BAC between .05% and .07% can still receive a DWAI offense. Even though the limit for DWI is .08%, New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192 states that “No person shall operate a motor vehicle while the person’s ability to operate such motor vehicle is impaired by the consumption of alcohol.” Fortunately, a DWAI charge is a violation and not a criminal offense charged as an “unclassified misdemeanor.” Nonetheless, the penalties for a DWAI can include a 90-day license suspension, up to $500 in fines, and a possible jail term lasting no longer than 15 days.
Being charged with a DWI, on the other hand, carries significantly harsher penalties, and because it’s a misdemeanor, the charge will go on the offender’s criminal record. The penalties for a first-offense DWI or DWAI/Drugs are relatively similar, and include:
- License revocation for six months (DWAI/Drugs offenders receive a license suspension for six months)
- $500 to $1,000 in fines
- A maximum jail sentence of up to 4 years, with a minimal of 5 days in jail or 30 days of community service
- Possible enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program (DDP)
Second offense DWI, DWAI/Drugs, or DWAI/Combination invoke more severe penalties, such as:
- License revocation for at least a year
- From $1,000 to $5,000 in fines
- Up to 4 years in jail
- Class E Felony charge
The penalties increase incrementally for subsequent convictions. Suffolk County, however, punishes first aggravated DWI offenders (.18% BAC or higher) with fines between $1,000 and $2,500, a jail sentence of up to one year, and a one-year license revocation.
Other DWI Penalties
There are many other factors involved with DWI cases. For example, New York upholds the Zero Tolerance Law that charges drivers under the age of 21 with license suspension and a civil penalty for the first offense. To break the Zero Tolerance Law, underage drivers must have a BAC of .02% or higher.
Other penalties in Suffolk County can involve chemical test refusal penalties or driving under the influence with kids in the vehicle (also known as Leandra’s Law).
Suffolk County does offer a little leeway to first offenders with its Plea Bargain Policy. If a first offender blows less than .13%, submits to a chemical test and breath test, does not have a criminal record, and pleads guilty, among several other factors, the judge might reduce the DWI to a DWAI.
Contact a Leading Suffolk County DWI Attorney
Whether it is a first offense or a third offense, being charged with a DWI is a very serious matter that could negatively affect your family, profession, social life, and virtually every other aspect of your life. Therefore, it is important to have an attorney experienced in DWI cases on your side. This is especially true if charged with aggravated DWAI or vehicular manslaughter or homicide. An experienced DWI attorney can walk you through the criminal proceedings every step along the way. This includes building a defense, talking with prosecutors and judges, making sure your constitutional rights are respected, and working towards reduced sentences if you’re convicted.
If you or a loved one was convicted of a DUI offense, don’t wait and get the legal counsel you need to get through this difficult time. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To set up a free consultation, give us a call today at (631) 472-3779.