Brief Overview of the Consequences of a DWI charge and Conviction in Central New York

July 15, 2013 · by Albany Criminal Attorneys · in

Guest post by Azria Law Office LLC, Syracuse NY DWI Lawyers

Impact of Driving While Intoxicated on Your NY Driving Privilege

A DWI charge will generally have an immediate effect on your ability to drive and these effects will extend to after the case is resolved; unless your case is dismissed or resolved with a non-alcohol related plea. Under New York’s prompt suspension law a judge may suspend your license at your arraignment, which is typically your first appearance in court. The judge may permit driving in limited circumstances while your case is pending upon the showing of an extreme hardship.

Second, a DWI or DWAI conviction will cause your license to be suspended or revoked for a period of time. Following a conviction, you may be eligible for a Conditional License, which allows you to drive to work, school, medical/treatment appointments, and in a few other limited circumstances.  Typically, a driver will be eligible for a conditional license if you are eligible and participate in the New York Drinking Driver Program.

Fines, Suspensions and Sentences Imposed by the Court

While there are 6 different charges under the New York DWI law (VTL §1192) here we will cover the consequences of a conviction for DWAI, misdemeanor DWI, and Felony DWI.

DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired and is a traffic violation and therefore is a non-criminal offense. The possible penalties for a DWAI conviction are a fine between $300-$500 and up to 15 days in jail, or both a fine and jail; a court surcharge of $265; a period of probation, conditional discharge, or up to 15 days of incarceration and a 90-day driving license suspension.

Misdemeanor DWI is a criminal offense. The possible penalties for a conviction are incarceration of up to 1 year; a fine between $500-$1,000 and surcharge of $395; installation of an ignition interlock device on the driver’s vehicle for a period of not less than 6 months; driver’s license suspension; a period of probation or conditional discharge; and a permanent criminal record.

Felony DWI is a criminal offense. All of the most serious crimes are felonies and are divided into classes from A to E. A Felony DWI charge will be filed as either a class D or E depending on the circumstances.

A class D felony may be charged for any person who has been convicted of DWI, vehicular assault, or vehicular manslaughter at least twice within the preceding 10 years. A driver can be punished by a term of incarceration of up to seven years and/or a fine of $2,000-$10,000 and a mandatory license revocation of one year. There is an optional registration suspension for the same period of time.

A class E felony may be charged for any person after having been convicted of driving while intoxicated or of vehicular assault or vehicular manslaughter at least once within the preceding 10 years. A driver can be punished by a term of incarceration of up to seven years and/or a fine of $1,000-5,000 and a mandatory license revocation of one year. There is an optional registration suspension for the same period of time.

Even a first time offender (someone without any convictions) can be charged with a felony DWI if a child under 16 years of age is a passenger in the motor vehicle at the time of the arrest.

Any conviction for Driving While Intoxicated whether felony or misdemeanor must also include the installation and compliance with an ignition interlock device for the duration of the sentence and for no less than six months.

The Role of the DMV in a DWI

In addition to the Courts, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles is involved with a DWI conviction.

For all DWAI and DWI convictions the New York DMV will make a “Driver Responsibility Assessment” of $250 each year for 3 years for a total of $750.

Additionally, the DMV’s “Drinking Driver Program” (DDP) is administered by the DMV and carries fees of it own. Participation in the DDP is also often required as a condition of the negotiated plea-bargains and, as mentioned above, is required for a driver to secure a conditional license.

While arising from the DWI charge, a chemical test refusal is a separate and distinct proceeding from the DWI charge. In the event a driver has refused a chemical test, the DMV will conduct a hearing and otherwise handle that proceeding.

Conclusion

A DWI charge is serious and complex and this article is merely intended to introduce you to the some of the primary consequences of a DWI. Discussing your charge with a trained attorney is the best way to examine the situation and ensure your rights are protected from beginning to end.

Based in Syracuse and lead by former DWI prosecutor, the DWI defense team at Azria Law Office is available to assist drivers charged with DWI in Upstate and Central New York.