4 Facts About DWIs That Can Make or Break a Case
Everyone enjoys a fun night out with friends, and responsible adults know that wine, beer, or spirits can add an extra zest to any social outing. But after even one drink, the ability to make clear decisions becomes temporarily muddled. Waiting it out and substantial hydration are solutions to lowering your blood alcohol content (BAC), but these measures can take hours to take effect. As a result, there are many intoxicated people who take matters into their own hands. Instead of relying on a designated driver, calling a taxi, or relying on public transit, they choose to get behind the wheel of a car, endangering themselves and others.
If you are drunk and you insist on driving, whether it be because of impatience or urgency, there is a risk that a police officer will pull you over. If this happens, the officer may measure your BAC. If your blood alcohol level is too high, you can be charged with the offense of driving while impaired, which will incur legal consequences. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few facts you should know in order to advocate for yourself.
- There Are Specific Benchmarks That Determine a DWI Charge.
In New York State, three different levels of BAC that can result in a DWI charge, and these depend on the age and occupation of the driver. In order to drive, individuals age 21 or older must be below 0.08 BAC, which means that less than 0.08% of their bloodstream must consist of alcohol. For commercial drivers, the BAC level is half of this: 0.04. Drivers under 21, though, can be charged for a BAC of merely 0.02.
- You Can Still Face Charges Even If You Are Under the Legal Limit.
You may be convicted of a DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, and you demonstrate other evidence of intoxication. However, other types of charges exist. In New York, you may be convicted of a driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI-Alcohol) charge if you have a BAC of between 0.05% and 0.07% or if you show other evidence that you are impaired. Alcohol does not even need to be in your body; a driving while ability impaired by a drug other than alcohol (DWAI-Drug) charge can result if you are found to be impaired by chemical substances other than alcohol. In addition, if you refuse to take alcohol testing by blood or urine, or by a host of other means, your license may be revoked and you will have to pay a $500 civil penalty—at the very least.
- There Are a Profusion of Consequences to DWI and DWAI Charges.
If you receive one of these charges, any of a number of consequences can follow, including suspension or revocation of your driving privileges, revocation of your driver’s license for refusal to take a chemical BAC test, fines up to $2,500 for a first offense, fees and surcharges for a conditional license or new license application, and fees for any treatment/educational classes you are mandated to complete. For drivers under the age of 21 years, the consequences differ; a six-month to one-year license suspension, a fine between $125 and $1000, and even 15 days to a year in jail can ensue based on the driver’s BAC level. Since it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to consume alcohol, the arrest opens the door to additional charges based on the officer’s observations, such as possession of false identification, distributing alcohol to minors, and minor in possession of alcohol.
- Charges Can Have Long-Term Effects.
A first-time offender in New York State who is convicted of driving while intoxicated will have a criminal conviction. This will appear on her or his record at the DMV, and the offender will have a criminal history the rest of her or his life. Each case is unique and based on the facts of your arrest. It can typically take anywhere between two to four months to resolve a DWI case. However, if you have a complicated case and a complicated set of facts it could take longer, sometimes up to one year. In New York State, if you get arrested and convicted of a DWI or a lesser charge of driving while impaired, this charge cannot be sealed or expunged. If you do have previous convictions for an alcohol-related offense, your penalties on a future arrest can be increased.
Being charged with a DWI, a DUI, or a DWAI is serious, and it can lead to embarrassment, stress, and prolonged, negative consequences. If you feel, however, that you have been wrongly accused, there are options available to you to fight the charge. A lack of probable cause, an invalid test, and inaccurate evidence can all serve as legitimate challenges if a charge has been given in error. If you decide to fight a DWI or a related charge, contact Arthur Pressman, an experienced DWI attorney in Amherst to be your ticket to justice.