It doesn’t matter whether you’re rooting for the Patriots or the Eagles, or are just watching for the commercials; chances are you’re going to be celebrating this Super Bowl Sunday. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest drinking days of the year. In an effort to prevent alcohol-related accidents, the New York State STOP-DWI Program is implementing a statewide crackdown on drinking and driving that will begin February 2, 2018, and end on February 5, 2018. During the Super Bowl STOP-DWI crackdown, there will be sobriety checkpoints and increased highway patrol officers on the roads. While it’s always important not to drink and drive, if you do this weekend, your chances of being arrested increase greatly. Here is a quick and easy guide with general information about drinking and driving and its consequences.
Legal Limit: Most people are aware that the legal limit is .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) but believe that they can “blow under a .08” without serious repercussions. This is a partially misleading consensus.
DWI: If you have a BAC of .08 to .17 you are not legally permitted to drive your car (or any motor vehicle) and can be charged with and/or convicted of the crime of “Driving While Intoxicated” (DWI).
Aggravated DWI: If you operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level that is .18 and above, you may be charged with “Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated” (Aggravated DWI).
DWAI: It is important to be aware that you could still be issued a ticket for “Driving While Ability Impaired” (DWAI) for a blood alcohol level of .05 to .07. While this charge is a traffic infraction (unless you’ve been convicted of 2 previous DWAIs), you may still face serious consequences, including up to 15 days in jail, a suspended license, fines, and/or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) fees.
Zero Tolerance: If you’re under 21, there is “zero tolerance” for drinking, meaning that driving with a BAC of .02 to .07 could result in a “Driving After Having Consumed Alcohol” charge. For individuals under 21 years of age driving with a BAC of .05 to .07, the police may charge him/her with a DWAI, and the matter will be handled in criminal court. If you’re under the age of 21, and drive with a BAC high enough to be charged with a DWI, Aggravated DWI, or DWAI, those charges accompany heightened consequences.
Refusal: You are not required by law to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC. However, there are heightened penalties for refusing to do so.
Commercial License: Those with commercial licenses will be subjected to stricter penalties, especially if you operate a vehicle that transports hazardous materials.
Above is a quick summary of various drinking and driving charges. Below, you’ll find a list of the potential consequences of convictions of the same charges.
Penalties: Several penalties may be imposed for a drinking and driving conviction. You’re going to lose your license for at least some period of time. While you may be able to apply for a conditional license, limitations are imposed, restricting where you can go and when you can be on the road. Below are the penalties for the first offense for each charge (unless stated otherwise).
DWI: Even if this is your first offense, this is a misdemeanor! It is a crime! This means, if you are convicted of a DWI, you will have a criminal record that may appear on a background check.
Jail Sentence: If convicted, you may face up to one-year in jail.
Fines: In addition to potential jail time, you will be required to pay a minimum fine of $500 to $1,000. This does not include surcharges, crime victim assistance fees, or the costs associated with installation of an interlock device. Additionally, the DMV may impose a “Driver Responsibility Assessment fee.”
Driver’s License: Your license will be revoked for a minimum of six-months. Individuals under 21 will have their license revoked for a minimum of 1 year.
Other Penalties: You may further be required to participate in alcohol treatment and/or evaluation, completing community service, and installing an interlock device. Installing an interlock device is required for any misdemeanor or felony drinking and driving charge, which must be installed at the offender’s expense.
These penalties apply to a DWAI received for drugs (DWAI-DRUG) or alcohol and drugs (DWAI-Combination).
Aggravated DWI: For the first offense, this crime is a misdemeanor! This means, if you are convicted of an Aggravated DWI, you will have a criminal record that may appear on a background check.
Jail Sentence: You may face up to one-year in jail (for the first offense).
Fines: The fines associated with this crime are a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $2,500 for the first offense, exclusive of surcharges, crime victim assistance fees and costs for an interlock device. Additionally, the DMV may impose a “Driver Responsibility Assessment fee.”
Driver’s License: Your license will be revoked for a minimum of one-year.
Other Penalties: You may further be required to participate in alcohol treatment and/or evaluation, completing community service, and installing an interlock device.
DWAI: While this is not a crime (unless it’s your third or more offense), you could still face a potential jail sentence of up to 15 days and a suspension of your license for 90 days. (If you’re under 21, your license will be revoked for at least a year.) The fines associated with this charge are $300-$500, exclusive of the surcharge, crime victim assistance fees, and costs associated with the installation of an interlock device. Additionally, the DMV may impose a “Driver Responsibility Assessment fee.”
Refusal: Your license will be suspended at arraignment and ultimately revoked for at least one-year. A $500 fine will be imposed. Depending on the circumstances, you could also have any of the above penalties imposed. You could also be convicted of a misdemeanor, resulting in having a criminal background.
Commercial Drivers: If you are convicted of having a BAC of .04 or higher, your license could be revoked for a minimum of one-year, in addition to any of the above penalties.
The above penalties are limited to the criminal court’s punishments for the corresponding charges. Frequently, in addition to their drinking and driving charge, people are charged with multiple traffic infractions, as well as other criminal charges, that may each bear their own separate penalties. Additionally, person’s situation is different. You could be dealing with employment issues, civil lawsuits, and penalties, as well as other issues.
What to do if you or a family member has been arrested: Call an attorney immediately so that he/she can evaluate your case. Hiring an attorney to act in your best interest may lessen the consequences and penalties associated with your charges. An attorney will be able to determine if you have any statutory, constitutional and/or procedural defenses to the charges. Your lawyer should assist you in understanding the procedures, and come up with a game plan that works for you and your case.
If you’ve been released at the police station, you will want to hire an attorney before your arraignment. If your loved one was not released, it could be helpful to hire private counsel to ensure certain rights are not waived during the arraignment. In the event you do not hire private counsel, even if the accused does not qualify for legal aid, a legal aid attorney may be assigned just for the purposes of the arraignment. Often times, the court takes into consideration that the defendant hired private counsel when determining bail amounts.
This is meant to be a brief summary. Each case and situation is different, which may alter the potential outcomes and strategy that should be used. For a free evaluation of your case or to discuss your rights, please feel free to call the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C. at (631) 343-7676.
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