When a person is arrested for Driving While Intoxicated there are many things that will be going through their head. The attorney in our Syracuse office put together the five main concerns our clients have when being charged with a DWI, and to help in understanding what they can expect if they have been charged with a DWI.  

In my experience, most people generally have the same primary concerns: impact on their driver’s license, avoiding a criminal record, dealing with the emotional toll of a DWI charge, financial issues, and ensuring that this will not happen to them again.

Impact on License

An individual charged with DWI must be made aware of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1193(2)(e)(7), the Prompt Suspension Law. If, after arrest, you submit to a chemical breath test and the sample that you provide produces a result of .08% or more, at your first appearance in court with your attorney your driver’s license will be suspended pending prosecution. This means that throughout the duration of your case, your New York State driver’s license, or your privilege to drive in New York State (if you are an out-of-state license holder) is suspended.

Understanding that people still need to go to work and care for their immediate families, New York State has created a limited type of license that a defendant can apply for once they have been subject to the Prompt Suspension Law. The Hardship License can be applied for at court so long as the defendant comes prepared with documents or third party testimony exhibiting that having no driving privileges would cause an extreme hardship for the defendant to retain his employment, continue his education, and ensure the attendance at scheduled medical appointments for themselves or anyone in their household. I believe the best way to apply for a Hardship License is for the client to bring someone with them to court to affirm to the Judge that the client needs Hardship driving privileges.

After 30 days from the suspension of a defendant’s driver’s license, they then become eligible for a Conditional License, which is applied for through your local DMV office. This license is optional. However as it broadens a defendant’s driving privileges, it is recommended.

Depending on the final outcome of your case, your license may be suspended or revoked for a period of time. If you are successful in defeating all criminal charges against you, your full license will be returned to you and no further penalties will be imposed. If you end up entering a plea to the non-criminal charge of Driving While Ability Impaired, your license will be suspended for 90 days after the entrance of your plea. If you end up entering a plea to the criminal charge of Driving While Intoxicated, your license will be revoked for 6 months after the entrance of your plea. Throughout all suspension/revocation periods, you will remain eligible to retain conditional driving privileges.

Criminal Record

Retaining the right attorney can make all the difference as to whether or not you will have a criminal record stemming from your DWI arrest. There are a few ways to avoid establishing a criminal record from your DWI arrest. The first way is to be successful at trial, obtaining an acquittal of all alcohol-related charges. The second, and most common, the way is to enter a plea to the non-criminal violation of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). Because DWAI is a violation and not a crime, there is no criminal record associated with it. A conviction of DWAI will show up on your New York State DMV driver’s abstract.

If your largest concern is to avoid a criminal record, it is imperative that you retain an experienced and creative attorney. I mention creativity because crafting a plea deal that works for the client, the District Attorney’s office, and the court requires some out-of-the-box thinking.

Emotional Effect of DWI

Soon after an arrest for DWI, you will feel a myriad of emotions. Perhaps you feel embarrassed, angry at your actions, scared for what is to come. I always tell my clients that they hired me to transfer those feelings to me because I want them to focus on moving forward and doing things to help their situation. Being bogged down by negative thoughts and feelings will only make the process that much more difficult.

Unfortunately, society has attached a stigma to DWI that is difficult to remove. As an attorney and a citizen, I have respect for the crime of DWI. I acknowledge that the penalties imposed are meant to act as a deterrent to avoid future similar conduct. Even though most DWI arrests stem from very innocent traffic infractions: failure to use a turn signal, speeding, rolling through a stop sign; too often people who are arrested for DWI based on a singular, isolated ‘bad night’ are immediately labeled alcoholic criminals. It is the job of your attorney to humanize you to the District Attorney’s office and the Court.

Financial Issues

Any encounter with the criminal justice system is going to cost you time and money. Having the right attorney will help mitigate both costs and consequences of a criminal action levied against you by the State of New York. Anytime you plead guilty to a charge in a New York State court, you are assessed a fine which goes to the court, and you are also required to pay a mandatory state surcharge that goes directly to New York State. The fines relating to alcohol related charges are delineated as follows:

Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated: Fine: $1,000-$2,500 with a mandatory surcharge of $395 or $400 depending on if you are in a city court of town/village court, respectively.

Driving While Intoxicated: Fine: $500-$1,000 with a mandatory surcharge of $395 or $400 depending on if you are in a city court or town/village court, respectively.

Driving While Ability Impaired: Fine: $300-$500 with a mandatory surcharge of $255 or $260 depending on if you are in a city court or town/village court, respectively.

The fine amount will increase if you have prior alcohol-related charges on your driving record within the past ten years.

In addition to court fines and surcharges, the New York State DMV also assesses their own fine, titled the Driver Responsibility Assessment, which adds up to $750.00 and is payable over three years.

Taking Preventative Action

After the vexing experience of a DWI charge, you probably want to ensure that you never have to go through the process again. Whether your motivations for absolute prevention stem from a concern for safety or from a personal aversion to handing over more money to New York State, you can make sure that you never again find yourself in the back seat of a patrol car under arrest for DWI.

If you end up convicted of an alcohol-related charge at the end of your DWI case, in order to retain your conditional driving privileges you must enroll in the New York State DMV Impaired Driver Program. This program is designed to educate individuals about the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Most people leave this course with new information that can help them acknowledge the signs of impairment and, thusly, avoid getting behind the wheel. Additionally, you will also be mandated to attend a one-night class titled the Victim Impact Panel. This panel includes individuals who have been negatively affected by DWI presenting and telling their stories to attendees. Both of these courses will elucidate some of the common misconceptions of alcohol consumption and getting behind the wheel.

We hope this has helped give you a better understanding of what you can expect if you are being charged with DWI. If you have further questions, please contact our team today.

The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 231 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY 13202; Telephone No.: 1-866-792-7800. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.