Sunday, February 01, 2009

NY DWI: Why low BAC cases should be fought

I got a call the other day from a prospective DWI client. His BAC was 0.16. It's already difficult in Albany to negotiate a reduction with a BAC that high. But it's worse than that. He had a previous DUI offense 3 years earlier and his lawyer pled him to a DWAI. That causes a big problem - he is ineligible for a conditional license. This guy won't be driving for at least a year.

On the prior offense his BAC was 0.08. I wrote recently about perspectives on DWI defense. My position remains that low BAC cases should always be fought. This case is a great example of why.

Paris Hilton had a BAC of 0.08, and they didn't fight the case. She apparently got a reduced charge - called "alcohol-related reckless driving". From what I can tell this is known as "wet reckless". Dry reckless does not involve alcohol. She got 3 years probation, and that led to her stint in jail.

You would think Paris Hilton could afford a quality DUI lawyer to fight her case. With a BAC that low, the chances of winning are strong. See People v. Beltran for an example.

In New York State, if your BAC is 0.08, in my opinion it makes no sense to plead guilty to a DWAI without thoroughly testing the prosecution's case at least through a suppression hearing. As the recent phone call and Paris Hilton's experience suggest, pleading to a reduced DUI charge can have very serious consequences.

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