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New Laws Impacting New York DWI Cases

by Seth Azria on 1/05/2016

Increased Pressure for Increased DWI Penalties

There is an immense amount of pressure being exerted on the New York State legislature from outside groups such as MADD and other advocacy groups to put laws in place that will presumably deter people from drinking and driving. For example, back in 2013 the New York State Senate passed legislation requiring mandatory jail sentences for repeat DWI offenders. However, we are finding that the passage of such legislation does not seem to be impacting the number of drivers convicted of DWI. Unfortunately, most people who are repeat DWI offenders have an abusive relationship with alcohol—i.e., they are alcoholics.

2013 DWI Legislation Increases Penalties for DWI Convictions 

In the past, even if you had multiple DWI convictions you might not receive a substantive punishment. However, in the wake of the legislation that passed in 2013, anyone convicted of two DWIs in the past ten years will be charged with a Class E felony; they face up to four years in jail with a mandatory minimum sentence of thirty days, and a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000. Drivers who have three or more DWI convictions in the last ten years are also charged with a Class E felony; they face a potential jail term of seven years with a mandatory minimum ninety-day jail sentence, and a fine of between $2,000 and $10,000. Finally, if someone has been convicted of two aggravated DWI crimes—i.e., perhaps one case where the driver had a BAC of .18 or higher and another where they had a child in the car—that scenario does not raise the level of the offense; it is still a Class E felony, but the minimum jail sentence is 180 days. Essentially, the legislature recognized that many of the things it was doing was not helping to reduce the number of DWI cases; and therefore, it has imposed a mandatory jail sentence for people who are particularly abusive of their driving privileges and/or repeat DWI offenders.

Article adapted from partner David C. Bruffett's chapter in "Inside the Minds: Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, 2015 ed. published by Aspatore Books, A Thomson Reuters business. 




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