Drunk Driving in Staten Island is a serious offense. Even a most basic offense can bring up to one year in jail and significant fees. However, there are defenses and options available if you’re facing a DWI charge.
Understanding the charges against you
You might be charged with driving while intoxicated under one of two theories. The first theory is that you’re over the legal limit to drive. The second theory is that alcohol or drugs impaired your ability to drive.
Over the legal limit
The legal limit in New York is a .08. That means that if you operate a motor vehicle with a bodily alcohol content of .08 or more per 210 liters of breath or per 100 milliliters of blood, you’re automatically a drunk driver in the state of New York. It doesn’t matter if the alcohol influences your ability to drive or not. Even if you can still drive perfectly, you’ve broken New York’s DWI laws.
The legal limit is lower for a commercial driver. They face significant penalties if they’re caught with a blood alcohol content of .04 or higher. For a driver under the age of twenty-one, the legal limit is a .02. Any time a driver under twenty-one drives with a blood alcohol content of a .02 or higher, they face a criminal conviction that comes with a long suspension of their operator’s license. In cases of repeat offenses, they might face a license suspension until they reach age twenty-one.
Ability to drive impaired
The other way to be a drunk driver is to operate a motor vehicle while your ability to drive is impaired by the use of alcohol, drugs or both. At this time there’s no specific legal limit for drugs. Rather, the state must prove that the drugs impacted your ability to drive. You can also face charges under a theory that you operated a vehicle under a combination of drugs and alcohol.
More serious charges
In some cases, there are reasons that you might face a more serious charge than basic drunk driving. If you have a very high blood alcohol level, you can face a charge of aggravated drunk driving. The legal limit to face an aggravated charge is a .18. You still face a year in jail, but you face a year-long suspension of your operator’s license instead of six months. You also face increased fines.
Prior offenses are another reason that your drunk driving charges may be more serious. Even one prior offense in the previous ten years can turn a misdemeanor drunk driving charge into a felony that’s punishable by up to four years in jail. A repeat Staten Island DWI charge is also much more likely to result in significant jail time. A third offense within ten years is a seven-year felony. Repeat offenses bring at least one year for a license suspension.
The exact sentence for your drunk driving conviction depends on the circumstance of the offense. The judge has the discretion to impose what they believe is an appropriate penalty. That makes it important to work with a Staten Island DWI attorney to put your best foot forward no matter what stage of the proceedings you’re facing. The judge hears from the state as well as from your attorney in order to fashion the most appropriate remedy.
Possible penalties include jail time or probation. You may have to complete a term of probation that may include community service and rehabilitative programs such as counseling and alcohol testing. You have to pay fines.
Defenses to the charges
A person isn’t necessarily guilty of DWI just because the state’s attorney accuses them of it. Instead, it’s up to the state to prove to a jury’s satisfaction that you’re guilty of the charges against you. You have the right to testify on your own behalf, call witnesses and present evidence.
There are a number of defenses that might call the state’s case into question. If you’re charged under an operating impaired theory, there might not be conclusive evidence that your ability to drive was affected by alcohol. Your attorney can demand video evidence that exists in order to question law enforcement testimony.
Other common defenses include examining law enforcement’s work when it comes to giving you a chemical test. There are a number of protocols that law enforcement must follow when they administer a breath test. They must make sure that you don’t have anything in your mouth and that you don’t vomit prior to taking the test. They must periodically check their machines for accuracy. If they don’t do these things, the result can be dismissal of the case against you.
Why work with us?
At Spodek Law Group, we’re skilled, aggressive and compassionate Staten Island DWI attorneys. We believe that no two clients are alike, but every client deserves and gets 100 percent of our experience and resources to prepare their best defense. We help every client prepare the best possible defense under New York law. Call us today to start working on your case.