A DUI Charge Is Worth Fighting
According to the New York State Police, there is an injury in the state every two minutes due to drunk driving, and more than 30 percent of all fatal crashes are alcohol-related.
Most people are familiar with the abbreviation DUI, which stands for “driving under the influence.” In New York, DUI is a generic term for all driving while impaired (DWI) charges, including impairment from alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two.
There are different versions of how a New York DUI is charged. One is driving while impaired (DWI), another is driving while ability impaired (DWAI), and another is aggravated DWI, each with its own set of penalties. The consequences, however, can be far-reaching beyond just any fines or driver's license suspensions. It’s important to fight the charge and keep those consequences in the rear-view mirror, so you can move on with your life.
If you’ve been charged with any drunk-driving offense in or around Kingston, New York, contact me immediately at the Melanson Law Office P.C. for trusted legal assistance. I am a former prosecutor who has been practicing criminal defense for more than 15 years. I will develop a strong defensive strategy to deal with both the criminal process and the administrative process regarding your driver’s license.
My firm also proudly represents clients in Hudson, Catskill, Highland, Poughkeepsie, Saugerties, and New Paltz, New York.
Possible Penalties for a DUI in New York
Let’s look at the three major DUI charges, what they entail, and the penalties:
DWI: Driving while intoxicated generally means you were found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent through a breath, blood, urine, or saliva test. The penalties can include up to one year in jail, a fine of $500 to $1,000, and a license revocation of 90 days.
DWAI: Driving while ability impaired is a charge that your driving ability has been compromised by “any extent” of alcohol. The penalties range from up to 15 days in jail, a fine of $300 to $500, and a 90-day revocation. However, those penalties apply only if the charge is based on alcohol consumption. If it’s a drug-related DWAI, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, then the penalties are the same as a DWI, as described above.
AGGRAVATED DWI: This charge results from a BAC of 0.18 percent or higher. This carries an automatic one-year license revocation and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). The fine could be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500, along with the potential for one year in jail.
Long-Range Consequences of a DUI Conviction
Some people may shrug their shoulders and say to themselves: “What can I do? They’ve got a blood test on me. I’ll take the fine and 90-day suspension.” That assumes, of course, that you get the low end of the penalties, but you also need to consider the long-term implications.
Your conviction will become part of a criminal record that will stay with you going forward. Every time you apply for a job, they will ask you if you have any convictions, and you’ll have to say “yes” since it’s part of a public record. This could end your chances of getting the job of your dreams. Your criminal record may also impinge on any public benefits you’re seeking, perhaps even on leasing a housing unit.
In addition, your auto insurance premium will no doubt skyrocket if the insurer doesn’t cancel you altogether. The whole arrest-and-trial process will also place strains on your relationships, not only with your loved ones but potentially with your employer.
Defense Strategies: It’s Worth Fighting the Charge
First of all, the police have to have probable cause before they can arrest you and charge you with any crime, including a DUI. We can argue that there was no probable cause, such as erratic or dangerous driving for the police to pull you over.
Also, if they administer a breath test, there are procedures they must follow, and the breathalyzer must be calibrated frequently to ensure the results are accurate. In other words, we can challenge the results.
Even with a blood test, there are issues in handling the sample that can be contested. One issue is the chain of custody. How many people handled the sample, and how do we know that it’s even your blood or that it wasn’t contaminated somewhere in the process?
Protecting Your Rights Every Step of the Way
If you’re facing a DUI-related charge in or around Kingston, New York, contact me at the Melanson Law Office P.C. immediately. I can begin by presenting your side of the story to prosecutors in hopes of getting the charge lowered or even dropped.
If matters end up in court, I have the resources and practice to build a strong defense to challenge the charge. Remember, there are consequences that go far beyond a simple fine and license suspension, so it’s definitely worth fighting a DUI charge.