DWI charges remain common in New York

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

New York law enforcement remains committed to prosecuting DWIs

Driving while intoxicated is still a common problem in New York. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that every day there are 300,000 people in America who drive drunk. Relatively few of those end up with a DWI, about 4,000 per day. For those 4,000 people, however, a DWI is a significant event.

It is easy to have a glass or two too many and still feel fine to drive. It is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater. One extra beer in the fourth quarter can push you over the limit. A couple of strong drinks during happy hour can result in a DWI.

A driver can even get into trouble with a lower BAC amount. If a driver appears impaired by alcohol but is under the legal limit - .06 or .07 percent - then they can be ticketed for a driving while ability impaired offense. While this charge does not amount to a crime, it can still lead to the same punishments, such as a loss of driving privileges, that come with a DWI.

Because it is relatively common, some people view a DWI as a relatively minor charge - but that is not the case. A first-time DWI is a misdemeanor and comes with a host of consequences. Additional factors can easily ratchet the charges up to a felony, for example if there are previous DWIs on a person's record, if there was a minor child in the vehicle, or if someone is injured in an accident involving alcohol.

According to the New York State Department, in 2013 over 25,000 New Yorkers were charged with a DWI. About one-third of those were repeat offenders. In 2012, 344 people lost their lives to drunk driving.

Penalties increasing

While DWI charges remain common, the penalties associated with a DWI conviction are only becoming more severe. Police crackdowns on drunk driving happen more frequently, and DWI checkpoints are a familiar sight for many New York drivers.

In 2009, New York passed Leandra's Law, which made it a felony to drive intoxicated with a child in the vehicle. As part of that law and ongoing amendments to it, New York drivers now convicted of a first-offense DWI must install ignition interlock devices on their vehicle. This device measures blood alcohol content and prevents the vehicle from starting if any amount of alcohol is detected.

Defending your rights

Having a DWI charge against you is a scary prospect. It can affect your employment, job prospects, living situation and respect in the community. That is why it is so important to get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney when fighting DWI charges. Whether contesting a charge or negotiating with the prosecution, it helps to have an experienced DWI defense attorney, such as those at Larkin, Ingrassia & Tepermayster, LLP, to defend your rights and ensure you minimize the harm a DWI can cause to the greatest extent possible.

Keywords: DWI, New York, misdemeanor