Sunday, September 18, 2005

DWI and Revocation in New York

I got a call Friday and it's a somewhat sad case. The client got his second DWI. His first was earlier this year. In New York, if you get two DWIs (including DWAI) in five years, your license will be revoked for 6 months, and there's virtually no chance at a conditional license during the revocation period. Especially, as in this case, when the second DWI comes so close after the first one.

Without a conditional license, life can be very, very hard in upstate New York. Downstate, there's a lot of public transportation, especially in NYC. Upstate you either have to live very close to where you work, or you will not be able to keep your job. If you have to drive for your job, it's over.

This client lives 40 minutes drive from his job. My advice: start looking for an apartment near your office now. The best we can hope for in this case is to hope and pray we can get a deal that reduces it to DWAI, which is a violation and not a misdemeanor (and therefore not a crime). The client's BAC was fairly low (.12). Maybe, if we agree to counseling and some other measures, just maybe, we can get that kind of a deal. The other big deal about getting the DWAI is in case there's a third DWI. If this one stays a DWI misdemeanor, the next one's a felony. That's where it gets really bad.

The alternative is to try to fight the charge. This gets very expensive, and the odds are generally not good. Some judges at least appear to find the police credible, even more so than may be accurate. And of course, the police often are credible. The consequences of losing a DWI case at trial are generally more severe than making a deal. Jail time becomes a significant possibility. Since it looks like the client will not lose his job by taking a deal, he's probably better off that way, and sucking it up without driving for 6 months.

I talk to my DWI clients quite a bit about their circumstances. Even though I don't drink and drive (I rarely drink), I feel the penalties are too severe for relatively low level offenders like this client.

Some of my advice - for the first-DWI offenders:
#1: If you know you're going out drinking, have a plan for how you're getting home.

#2: If you find yourself out drinking, and you don't have a plan, or your plan fell through, call a cab. Have the numbers of 3 cab companies in your wallet. Yes, a cab can be expensive, but almost always less than $100. A first NY DWI will cost you ~$5000, and as we can see from this case, the second is much worse.

#3: I encourage them to consider alcohol counseling. I can't say whether someone has a drinking problem - I don't have the expertise. But I can say for sure that they have a driving problem. If they do have an alcohol problem, they should look into it.

For other blogs generally commenting on DWI and revocation in other states, see:
Say Anything and
Defend DWI Missouri
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