When you see the flashing lights in your rear-view mirror, your life can turn upside down in an instant. When you’re facing a drunk driving charge in Nassau County, it can be hard to even know where to begin. You want to know what penalties you’re facing and how to defend yourself in the best way possible.
What is drunk driving?
Nassau County’s term for drunk driving is driving while intoxicated or DWI. It’s per se drunk driving to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of a .08 or more. This is determined based on a blood, breath, urine or saliva test. A breath test is the most common.
There’s another, similar offense that’s called driving while ability impaired. A person can be a drunk driver by being over the legal limit or by driving while alcohol, drugs or a combination of both impairs their ability to drive. The penalties for driving while ability impaired might be similar to DWI or they might be less severe depending on the circumstances of the offense.
If your blood alcohol level is high, you face enhanced charges called aggravated DWI. In cases where there’s a minor age fifteen or younger in the vehicle, your offense is automatically a felony. Repeat DWI offenses within a period of time can also bring charging enhancements. Even a second offense charge is a felony.
Penalties for a conviction
Each penalty for drunk driving carries its own possible set of convictions. At the most basic level, these penalties include a term of jail or prison, fines and a license suspension. You may have to spend time on probation and complete alcohol or drug awareness or treatment programs. If a person suffers financial losses because of your actions, you may have to pay restitution.
Driving while intoxicated penalties
A basic drunk driving offense comes with a possible penalty of up to one year in jail. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you serve a year in jail. However, the judge has the option to give you that much time in jail. You also face a mandatory license suspension of at least six months.
A second or third violation within ten years is a felony. For a second offense, that means up to four years in prison. For a third offense, that means up to seven years in prison. In each case, you face a license suspension of at least one year.
An aggravated drunk driving conviction brings a year’s license suspension for a first offense. The maximum possible jail time is one year. Repeated aggravated drunk drivers can lose their ability to operate a vehicle for eighteen months each time they offend. Possible jail and prison sentences also become progressively more serious with each subsequent offense.
When you face a DWI charge, your Nassau County DWI attorney can help you review the charges against you for possible defenses. The first step is to review each element of the charges and examine the state’s evidence. For example, one thing that the state’s attorney has to prove is that you operated a motor vehicle. You might think that this is basic but that’s not always the case.
If you’re charged under an impaired driving theory, the state has to prove that alcohol or drugs impaired your ability to drive. This isn’t always a simple question, and reasonable minds can differ. The jurors can consider your speech, the way you drove the vehicle and witness testimony about your intoxication. Often, what the state sees as a slam dunk against you might actually not seem like drunk driving at all to a jury of your peers.
Even if you’re charged with DWI that alleges you operated a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of a .08 or .18 or more, you still may have viable defenses. The jury may consider that the person who gave you the chemical test wasn’t qualified to do so. They may conclude that the test result was given in an improper way or that too much time passed between when the driving happened and when the test finally occurs.
Why work with an attorney
An experienced Nassau County DWI lawyer can use their training and experience to guide you to the best possible result in your case. You may have defenses available to you that you may not have considered. To an experienced attorney, these might be great defenses.
Your team of attorneys can demand that the state give them evidence that exists in your case even if the evidence is unfavorable to the state’s case. The attorneys can prepare and file a motion to suppress if the police violated your constitutional rights. If your case has weaknesses, your attorney can offer you honest advice that helps you make the best possible decisions.
If you’re facing drunk driving charges, please contact us. We’re eager to help each client obtain the best possible result in court. No matter your circumstance, we can help. Please contact us today, and we can talk about your case.