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If you’re facing a Suffolk County drunk driving charge, you might think that you don’t have many options. You might be under the impression that if you blow over the legal limit or if a law enforcement officer says that you’re too drunk to drive, you don’t have any defenses. This isn’t necessarily the case.
What is drunk driving in Suffolk County?
There are a number of different offenses that we call drunk driving in Suffolk County. These offenses include both being over a legal limit and being under the influence. DWI or driving while intoxicated is the most basic name for drunk driving in the State of New York. A drunk driving offense can range from a misdemeanor to a very serious felony, depending on your prior offenses.
To convict you of drunk driving per se, the state must prove that you operated a motor vehicle and that you did so with a blood alcohol level of a .08 or higher. To convict you of operating while ability impaired, the state must prove that you operated a motor vehicle while your ability to do so was impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. At this time, there’s no legal limit for drugs, so you can drive under the impairment of any amount of drugs, alcohol or a combination of both if the substances affect your ability to drive the vehicle.
Usually the most worrisome penalty for a person charged with a drunk driving offense is jail time. They want to know how much time they can expect to serve in jail. For the most basic DWI offense, the answer is one year. It’s not uncommon for a person to serve less time than that if they can show the judge that they’re a strong candidate to complete probation successfully.
For repeat offenses, jail time becomes much longer much more likely. A second offense drunk driving conviction is a felony if it occurs within ten years of a prior offense. It comes with up to four years in prison, and an offender is almost certain to serve some time in jail. A third offense brings up to seven years in prison. You can work with a Suffolk County DWI attorney in order to work on ways to minimize your possible jail time.
The next greatest hardship for most drunk driving offenders is a license revocation. This can range from six months to eighteen months. The factors that determine the length of suspension include the number of prior offenses, the level of alcohol intoxication and the exact charge.
Anyone with any kind of drunk driving conviction in Suffolk County must literally pay their debt to society. This usually means a substantial fine and even additional court costs. For a basic DWI conviction, fines begin at $500. These fines become must greater with every repeat offense, topping out at $10,000 for third and subsequent offenders.
Probation and rehabilitative services
A judge can place you on probation. You should consider this an alternative to jail. A term on probation might include community service. You might have to complete rehabilitative programs that help you address an alcohol or drug problem.
Defenses to drunk driving charges
There are many possible ways to defend yourself against a drunk driving charge. Of course, no two cases are alike, but it’s important to examine the state’s case against you for ways that they lack proof. What’s clad-iron proof to a state attorney might not be convincing at all to a jury, so it’s important not to take the state’s word for it that you’re guilty of the offense.
One common defense to a drunk driving charge is that the state didn’t have the right to stop your vehicle. To stop a vehicle to investigate a drunk driving charge, a law enforcement officer must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. They can’t just claim that they knew you were drunk driving. If law enforcement can’t articulate that they saw you commit a traffic violation or that they had reason to believe you were drunk driving based on their observations, the state might throw out the entire case against you.
Another common defense is to examine the way the officer administers field sobriety tests. Lots of officers make up their own sobriety tests, even though these tests have no basis in science and don’t have anything to do with your ability to operate a motor vehicle. There are standardized tests that law enforcement officers should administer. These tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn and the one-leg stand. If the law enforcement officer didn’t administer the tests in the proper ways, their conclusions about your levels of intoxication may be inaccurate.
Let’s work together
At Spodek Law Group, our team of trained and experienced Suffolk County DWI lawyers can help you prepare your best defense. We’re confident in the courtroom and eager to help you defend your case to the fullest extent of the law. If you’re facing drunk driving charges, please contact us today.
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