New York City DWI Lawyer
Defending Wrongful DUI Charges in Manhattan
A DUI or DWI conviction in New York can lead to severe criminal penalties along with fines and court fees. If you are facing charges for DUI or DWI in New York, you need to contact a criminal attorney as soon as possible. Our New York City DWI lawyer at the Law Offices of Jason A. Steinberger is committed to helping anyone facing criminal charges secure a positive outcome in their case.
Attorney Jason A. Steinberger boasts over 20 years of legal experience working as a criminal defense lawyer, DUI prosecutor, and adjunct law professor. Jason’s in-depth knowledge of DWI and DUI law gives his clients a valuable advantage. Additionally, his experience as a Bronx County Assistant District Attorney gives him valuable insight into how prosecutors handle New York City DWI cases.
Difference Between DUI and DWI
Unlike some states, New York does not use the term “driving under the influence” (DUI). Instead, New York prosecutors can charge defendants with driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI).
New York defines DWI as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above. The DWI statute also prohibits drivers from operating motor vehicles while in an “intoxicated condition.” Intoxication means that a person is substantially incapable of using the physical and mental abilities necessary to operate a vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver would.
When your BAC is slightly below the level needed for a DWI charge, you will often face DWAI charges. New York defines DWAI as operating a motor vehicle with a BAC between .05% and .07%.
Charges and Penalties for a DWI in New York State
A first-time DWI conviction can result in a maximum of one year in jail and a fine between $500 and $1,000. Additionally, the State will suspend your driver’s license for six months. A second DWI conviction can result in a maximum of four years in prison and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000. If your second conviction is within 10 years of your first, the State may be able to suspend your driver’s license for 18 months. A third DWI conviction can result in a maximum of seven years in prison and a fine between $2,000 and $10,000.
DWAI is considered a traffic infraction instead of a criminal offense like DWI. A first-time DWAI conviction can result in a maximum of 15 days in jail and a fine between $300 and $500. Additionally, the State will suspend your license for 90 days.
A second DWAI conviction can result in a maximum of 30 days in jail and a fine between $500 and $750.
A third DWAI conviction can result in a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine between $750 and $1,500. If you receive another DWAI within five years of your first conviction, the State can suspend your driver’s license for six months.
Any of these criminal penalties can turn your life upside down. Not only do you face the possibility of spending time in jail, you will also lose your driving privileges. A qualified Manhattan DWI attorney can walk you through your charges and help formulate a defense strategy that will help your case.
Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
You can. However, there are serious consequences if you do if you are arrested on suspicion of DWI or DWAI.
Under New York’s implied consent law, anyone who operates a motor vehicle within the state consents to a chemical test of their breath or blood if law enforcement has probable cause to believe they were driving under the influence.
If you refuse a chemical test, the State can revoke your driver’s license for up to a year. Additionally, you will face a civil penalty of $750. In addition to penalties and fines for refusing to submit to a chemical test, you can still receive penalties for the underlying drunk driving offense. Not to mention, a prosecutor can use your refusal as evidence of guilt at trial for the underlying criminal charges.
BAC and the Zero Tolerance Law
A zero tolerance law refers to a drunk driving statute for drivers who are not legally allowed to consume alcohol. New York’s zero tolerance law prohibits drivers who are less than 21 years old from operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. For purposes of the statute, consuming alcohol means the person has a BAC between .02% and .07%.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement agents conduct field sobriety tests at the scene of an accident or traffic stop in an attempt to ascertain if a driver is under the influence. Field sobriety tests include a variety of mental and physical tasks designed to alert police officers to intoxication. The most commonly used field sobriety tests include:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN),
- One-leg stand,
- Walk and turn,
- Vertical gaze nystagmus (VGN), and
- Finger touch test.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed these tests to help officers determine when a driver should be arrested for DUI. However, the NHTSA acknowledges that the tests are not entirely accurate at measuring intoxication. Additionally, the most commonly used field sobriety tests are not approved for multiple classes of individuals, including:
- People who are injured,
- People with medical conditions,
- Elderly individuals over the age of 65, and
- Individuals 50 lbs or more overweight.
A common complaint about field sobriety tests is that the arresting officer has too much discretion to make charging decisions. Bias and favoritism can influence the officer’s decision more than the results of the field sobriety test.
Field sobriety tests are entirely voluntary. However, an officer will likely not tell you that you can refuse to perform these tests. If an officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests, you can politely decline the request.
What Are the Defenses for a DWI Charge in NYC?
There are a number of legal defenses that could apply to your case and help your New York DUI attorney negotiate for a favorable deal. Examples of these legal defenses include:
- The traffic stop leading to your DWI was illegal and violated your rights,
- You have proof that you were not operating the vehicle,
- Officers improperly administered breath or blood tests,
- You did not receive an implied consent advisement, or
- The BAC testing equipment was improperly maintained.
A Manhattan DUI attorney can assist you in determining whether any valid legal defenses apply to your situation.
What Is Aggravated DWI in NYC?
An aggravated DWI conviction warrants more severe penalties than a normal DWI conviction. In New York, you commit aggravated DWI if you:
- Operated a vehicle with a BAC at or above .18%, or
- Drove under the influence of alcohol with a child as your passenger.
If you receive an aggravated DWI conviction in New York for a high BAC, you face a penalty of one year in jail and a fine between $1,000 and $2,500. Additionally, the State will revoke your driver’s license for at least one year.
A second aggravated DWI conviction for a high BAC qualifies as a class E felony. A first-time conviction for aggravated DUI with a child in the car qualifies as a class E felony. A class E felony carries the possibility of up to four years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000. The State will also suspend your driver’s license for at least 18 months.
A third aggravated DWI conviction qualifies as a class D felony. A class D felony carries the possibility of up to seven years in prison and a fine between $2,000 and $10,000.
When Does a DWI Become a Felony in New York?
New York imposes a felony DWI charge on drivers who receive an additional DWI conviction within ten years of a prior alcohol-related criminal conviction. DWAI does not count as an alcohol-related criminal conviction for purposes of this statute.
An aggravated DWI for operating a vehicle under the influence with a child in the car is considered a felony without any prior charges. Any subsequent high BAC aggravated DWI charge is a class E felony after your first conviction.
Contact the Law Offices of Jason A. Steinberger to Talk to a New York City DWI Lawyer Who Can Fight for You
With over twenty years of experience helping clients facing similar charges, NYC DUI attorney Jason A. Steinberger has the knowledge and experience necessary to build an aggressive strategy in your case. Prior to representing those accused of criminal violations, Jason spent time as a prosecutor in Bronx County. As a result, Jason knows the ins and outs of the New York criminal process and can answer any of your questions.
Our team will ensure you always understand the details of your case and receive regular updates about the charges you are facing. We will advise you of your rights and help you make informed, intelligent decisions every step of the way.
If you are facing drunk driving charges in New York, contact the NYC DWI lawyers at the Law Offices of Jason A. Steinberger to schedule your free initial consultation.