New York DUI Facts

Every case is different and there are no guarantees. Below are rough answers to some questions we hear frequently.Q: Will we be able to get a plea bargain?.A: Usually a good lawyer can get a first-DUI charge reduced to a DWAI violation. In some counties, it is more difficult to reduce a DWI if your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is particularly high. The individual prosecutor may have a set number in mind.

For some that means over 0.15. For others it might be 0.18 or 0.20. Others will agree to a plea bargain regardless of the BAC.

Other factors also might prevent a plea bargain, such as if the charge arose out of a serious accident, if you have a criminal record, or if it is not the first DWI on your record. In such cases, a good lawyer may be able to get a reduction later if they can find any weakness in the prosecution's case. It may be possible to get a reduction even with a high BAC if you get a substance abuse evaluation and comply with the treatment recommendations from the evaluation.Q: Do I need a lawyer?.

A: No. If you want to plead guilty to the charge, or if you want to try to negotiate for yourself, you do not need a lawyer. In many courts, a good lawyer will get you a better deal than you will get for yourself. Also, a good lawyer may be able to spot weaknesses in the prosecution case against you. A very experienced DWI lawyer knows the ins and outs of these issues better than non-lawyers, and better than most regular lawyers.

Q: Do I have to come to court?.A: Usually. Some out-of-state or out-of-area clients might not have to come to Court if a lawyer appears for you.

Other than that, DUI defendants have to come to Court. You will have to surrender your license, and the judge will want to make sure you understand what you have to do. We have represented clients from other states and distant parts of New York State (such as New York City) without our clients appearing. Many judges are uncomfortable with it, but so far no one has refused to allow it. We've even done it with a local client, where he was out of state visiting his mother in the hospital.

But generally, for local clients, you will have to appear.Q: Will my insurance rates go up?.A: Probably for New York drivers, and maybe for out-of-state drivers. A DUI conviction is reported on your New York driving record.

If your insurance company finds out, your rates will almost certainly go up. In some cases your insurance company will drop you as a customer and you may have to enter the assigned risk pool, where rates are dramatically higher. It is possible that your insurance company will not find out, and then your rates shouldn't go up. If you are from out-of-state, a New York DUI conviction may not affect your license or insurance, except in Quebec and Ontario. In our experience, reporting of DUI matters to other states is inconsistent. They are supposed to be reported through the Drivers License Compact, but many of our clients have not been affected.

On the other hand, some of them have been affected.Q: Can we beat the charge?.A: Maybe. Most DUI charges are difficult to beat and it will cost a lot more to fight than to make a deal. The police usually do a good job and the hard truth is, most defendants are guilty.

Still, the police sometimes slip up. They may not have had a good reason to stop your car. They may not have had enough evidence to require a BAC test. They may have done the tests wrong. You may have credible witnesses who can say you were not intoxicated.

A good lawyer can review these issues with you and give you better answers.It makes more sense to fight a DUI if you have a prior DUI conviction (including DWAI) in the last 5 years, as you will likely be ineligible for a conditional license.Recent examples of DUI cases we are fighting include where our client was stopped by police for running a stop sign in a parking lot (generally not illegal), and another where our client was sleeping at home when the police came to get him (the BAC test is probably invalid).

Q: What do lawyers charge?.A: Fees vary widely for DWI cases. There are some lawyers who charge as little as $350.

I know of one lawyer who starts in the $5000 neighborhood. Most good DWI lawyers charge a minimum of $1000, because of the amount of time involved in reviewing the case and making sure you get the right result, and because of the risk of having to go back muliple times.Q: What's the difference between DUI, DWI, and DWAI?.A: DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated, which is either a specific numerical BAC result of 0.08 or higher (V&T Law Section 1192(2)), or a general notion that you're intoxicated, proven by testimony and other evidence of the nature of your impairment (1192(3)). DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired (1192(1)), and is generally considered to be when the BAC result is higher than 0.

05.DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, and is a general term in the US for the subject. The term DUI is not commonly used in the legal system in New York State.

Under V&T Law 1193, first and second convictions for DWAI are violations - they are not crimes and you cannot get a criminal record for a violation. A third DWAI is a misdemeanor. A first DWI is a misdemeanor. Later DWI charges can be felonies.

.Albany Lawyer Warren Redlich practices in Albany, New York.

He is a graduate of Albany Law School, Stanford University (Masters) and Rice University. He handles DUI cases, along with other criminal matters and personal injury cases.

By: Warren Redlich

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