Drivers who operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more are breaking the law in New York state. Since 2007, the state has also introduced an aggravated DWI charge that carries stiffer penalties compared to a regular misdemeanor DWI. Regardless of what type of impaired driving crime you may be accused of, it may be best to talk to a New York City criminal lawyer to learn how to protect your rights.
A driver may face an aggravated DWI charge if his or her BAC is .18 percent or higher. It is important to understand that a person can be charged with this crime even if he or she is not driving erratically or recklessly.
A prosecutor simply needs to show that you were driving a vehicle at a time when your BAC was .18 or higher. Regardless of what your blood alcohol content is at the time of a traffic stop, a DWI charge may be upgraded to an aggravated DWI if a child under the age of 15 is also in the vehicle.
What Are Examples of Aggravated DWI?
Let’s say that an individual has been consuming alcohol at a bar for several hours before driving home. He has been drinking at least three beers per hour for the last four hours, which would give him a BAC of .24 percent.
If he were to get pulled over for any reason, a police officer could have probable cause to do field sobriety tests or conduct a chemical test. Assuming that the officer has enough evidence to conclude that this man is intoxicated, he could be pulled over regardless of what the initial traffic stop was for.
Let’s also say that the man stopped to pick up his 13-year-old child from soccer practice after having five drinks at the bar in an hour. Although his BAC is only .10 percent, the presence of the child would be enough to charge him with aggravated DWI.
Potential Defenses to Aggravated DWI
Those who are charged with aggravated DWI have many different ways to defend themselves in court. It may be possible to argue that there was a flaw in the way that the test was conducted or in the way that the test was handled that produced an inaccurate result.
A driver may contest the legitimacy of the traffic stop that led to the charge. For instance, a driver may contend that there was no reason for it to be conducted since he or she was following the rules of the road when police made contact. A lack of probable cause could mean that any evidence collected is suppressed or thrown out entirely.
The results of field sobriety tests may be challenged as well. While they generally cannot be used in court as evidence, they may play a role in determining whether a person is charged with aggravated DWI. However, results may be skewed by the presence of a medical condition, being nervous around police or other factors unrelated to impairment.
If you are facing a drunk driving charge, it may be in your best interest to talk with an attorney immediately. He or she may help you avoid making mistakes that could jeopardize your chances at a plea bargain or acquittal. A plea bargain may reduce the charges against you or the penalties that you face. If you win an acquittal, you cannot be tried on the charge again.