Although DWI and DWAI offenses have declined in New York State during recent years, the risk posed by such offenses remains great, and law enforcement continues to crack down on those who drink and drive. In addition to being on the alert for reckless drivers, and frequently testing the blood alcohol level of individuals who have been in vehicular accidents, the police set up random checkpoints along our roadways to catch those who drive while intoxicated. Because of the increased awareness of alcohol-related accidents that result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities, often among children or teenagers, the public is much less forgiving of DWI and DWAI offenses than it once was and this intolerance extends into the judicial system.
If you have been arrested for an alcohol-related driving offense, you have cause to be seriously concerned. A conviction for such an offense, particularly if you have been in an accident with reported injuries, can change the course of your life. This is why the first thing you should do once arrested is call on a superior DWI defense attorney. The sooner you bring a savvy defense attorney onto the scene, the more likely you are to win your case.
If you are in Syracuse, Onondaga County, or in surrounding areas of Central New York, you will not do better than reaching out to Carden Dotzler Hammond, PLLC. Our attorneys are highly experienced and have a track record of successful outcomes, both in and out of the courtroom. Moreover, we all are well-respected among our peers. We all have excellent Avvo and Google ratings and reviews and two members of our team have Super Lawyer awards.
Dedicated to our clients, we always stand on the firm footing of the principle that every person accused of committing a crime is “innocent until proven guilty.” We not only have a broad range of knowledge of federal, state, and local law; but we also have keen insight into workable strategies to get the charges against you dismissed. Even in cases in which evidence makes this impossible, we are adept at negotiating plea bargains that will result in lesser charges and milder punishments.
Common DWI & Alcohol-Related Driving Offenses
There are a great many distinct offenses you may be charged with. These include:
- DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) — This traffic infraction (Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 1192.1) states that you were operating a motor vehicle while your ability to do so is “impaired by the consumption of alcohol.” Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to arrive at this lesser offense if you were originally charged with DWI. Since DWAI is only a traffic infraction, it does not result in a criminal record.
- DWI Per Se — This misdemeanor ((VTL 1192.2) states that you were operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more, verified by a breath, urine, or blood test.
- DWI — This misdemeanor (VTL 1192.3), often referred to as “Common Law DWI,” is the most commonly charged alcohol-driving offense. The police can charge you with this crime without administering a test of your BAC as long as they have reason to believe you are “operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition.” You can be arrested for this offense based on an officer’s observation and testimony alone that you “were stumbling,” had “bloodshot eyes,” “slurred speech,” and/or “smelled of alcoholic beverages.”
- Aggravated DWI — Though also considered a misdemeanor (VTL 1192.2-a(a)), aggravated DWI is more serious since you are being charged with a much greater level of alcohol in your blood — .18 percent or higher.
- Aggravated DWI with a Child — Driving while intoxicated with a child in the car (VTL 1192.2-a(b)), moves you into the dangerous territory of being charged with a felony. This charge, also known as “Leandra’s Law,” accuses you of having a passenger who is 15 years old or younger in your car. Although all DWI charges are serious, this is among the most serious and is designated a Class E Felony.
- DWAI Drugs — Still considered a misdemeanor, (VTL 1192.4), this offense moves into the area of drug, rather than alcohol, abuse. Operating a motor vehicle while “impaired by the use of a drug” can refer to a street drug, like cocaine, marijuana, or heroin, or can refer to a lawfully prescribed medication, such as a tranquilizer, sleeping pill, or painkiller.
- Felony DWI —As in other areas of the law, repeat offenses are considered worse and worse as the defendant repeats past criminal behavior. If you have been convicted of a DWI offense within the last 10 years, any new DWI charge will be considered a felony.
DWI and DWAI Defense
If you have been arrested for a DWI or DWAI offense in Central New York, it should be reassuring for you to know that CDH Law’s capable DWI defense attorneys have many legal tried and true tactics to use in your defense. We are well aware of the severe consequences that await you if you don’t have competent legal counsel, and you should be, too.
Consequences of a DWI Conviction
If you are convicted of a DWI offense, depending on the circumstances, you may be facing:
- Hefty fines, surcharges, and fees for required treatment programs
- Incarceration (up to 2 or 3 years), more if you have committed other offenses as well
- Suspended license (or lost privilege to drive in NY if your license is from another state)
- Revoked license
- An evaluation by a New York state-approved Substance Abuse Counselor and/or participation in an alcohol or substance abuse treatment, Impaired Driver Program or Victim Impact Panel
- Loss of your commercial driver’s license
- Loss of employment
- Loss of pistol permit
- Loss of professional license
- Military repercussions if you are in the service
- Civil liability for injuries or property damage you caused
- Loss of child custody
The Earlier You Call Us, the Sooner Our DWI Attorney Can Help
The DWI defense attorneys at CDH Law are ready to fight for your rights as soon as you engage our services. We know precisely how to investigate by obtaining all pertinent records from police and, if necessary, from medical personnel, as well as how to gather witness testimony. Our goal, even before we strategize to win your case, is to get you released from jail as quickly as possible to relieve your stress and clear your head so you can assist in your defense.
Although your license will be suspended at the time of your arrest for DWI, we may be able to argue successfully that you meet the criteria for a “hardship license.” This license will permit you to drive for essential purposes, such as to retain your employment, attend school, or go to necessary doctor’s appointments. Once your Hardship License has been in place for 30 days, we can help you apply for a pre-conviction “conditional license.” This license will not only permit you to drive to work, school, court, and doctors’ appointments but will also give you 3 hours weekly to run necessary errands.
We May Be Able to Get You Back on the Road Quickly
If you are convicted of a DWI offense, the length of time your license suspension or revocation will remain in effect will depend on the particular offense you have been convicted of. If you have not had another DWI/DWAI on your record for at least 5 years, you may be eligible for a “post-conviction” conditional license, as long as you are enrolled in the Impaired Driver Program (formerly known as the Drinking Driver Program, or “DDP”).
CDH Law— The DWI Defense Attorneys You Can Count On
Being arrested for DWI or DWAI can be a very frightening experience. When you contact our team by phone or by filling out one of the forms on our website, you are contacting attorneys who have a well-earned reputation for strong skill sets and legal agility. We will stand by you no matter what, working hard to defend you against the serious charges you face. We will press hard for an acquittal or, if that is not possible, negotiate a plea bargain that works in your favor.
Carden Dotzler Hammond, PLLC represents clients in Central New York, Syracuse, Monroe County, Jefferson County, Oswego County, Ontario County, and Onondaga County, including the towns and villages of Camillus, Cicero, Clay, Dewitt, Elbridge, Geddes, Manlius, Marcellus, Onondaga, Salina, Skaneateles, Baldwinsville, East Syracuse, Fayetteville, Liverpool, North Syracuse, and Solvay.