Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) FAQs
A driving while intoxicated charge, also known as DWI, is not to be taken lightly. Without the representation of an experienced DWI lawyer in New York, New York, by your side, the DWI charge can quickly become a conviction, which will stay on your criminal record for a very long time. Getting help from a New York DWI attorney is important to protect your rights and also to make sure that your driving privileges are not taken away. Read on to understand more about driving while intoxicated (DWI) as explained by our DWI lawyer in New York County.
What is considered driving while intoxicated (DWI)?
You are considered to be driving while intoxicated (DWI) and therefore legally drunk under the law if you blow a 0.08 or higher on a Breathalyzer test. Remember, “Don’t Drink & Drive” is a slogan. You may indeed drink and drive. You just cannot drink to the point of impairment or intoxication. What that means in terms of the number of drinks you may consume before becoming legally drunk depends upon many factors, primarily related to your height, weight, and whether your stomach is empty or full.
How does driving while intoxicated (DWI) differ from driving while impaired?
Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) occurs when you blow between a 0.05 to just below a 0.08 on a Breathalyzer test. Unlike driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while ability impaired (DWAI) is not a crime but rather an infraction. That said, the penalties and consequences associated with DWAI make it undesirable to drive in this condition.
Can I, or should I, refuse a breath test?
This is a very popular question. Under the law, you are permitted to refuse to take the test. There is no requirement that you blow into the machine. However, if you do not, there are two compelling consequences. First, your license is subject to immediate suspension. Second, your refusal can be used against you to show “consciousness of guilt.” That is, that you refused to take the test because you knew you were guilty. Should your case go to trial, the prosecutor may argue this to the jury. Therefore, refusing to take the test could be a faulty decision since you will lose your license, and the jury will be allowed to consider that your doing so was based upon you being drunk.
How can a prosecutor prove that I’m drunk if I refuse to take the test?
The police officer who stops you will make a number of observations about your physical condition. This includes your speech, your eyes, your clothing, your balance, your breath and how you were driving. For example, they will likely note in their paperwork that you had slurred speech, you had bloodshot eyes, you had disheveled clothing, you were unsteady on your feet and your breath smelled of alcohol. The police will also note whether you were operating the car in an erratic way or in some manner consistent with intoxication.
What are field sobriety tests?
Field sobriety tests are a battery of tests that are done by the police to test your physical coordination as well as your ability to respond and follow instructions. The police are using these tests to determine whether you are driving drunk or otherwise impaired. In doing so, they will ask you to, for example, stand on one leg to test your balance; walk multiple steps in one direction, before turning around, and walk back the other way; stand straight with your hands at your side before touching your nose with the index finger of your right and left hand; and shine a ray of light in each of your eyes while having you rotate them from right to left (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test). All of these are desired to determine whether you are drunk or impaired by examining your balance, coordination and ability to follow instructions. Your performance will be documented and is often recorded.
Are breath test results always accurate?
No, they are not. This is why you should not fear blowing into the breath machine. First, no machine is infallible and may generally have an error rate between 0.01 to 0.03 above or below the reading. That is, a 0.08 may not be a 0.08 at all. Second, breath machines must be maintained properly – like any other machine. Records are maintained for this purpose. Third, the machine must be operated properly, and those using it must follow the specific instructions and protocols required. Fourth, the subject must blow adequately into the machine in order to make an accurate reading more likely. Fifth, there is an observation period before a sample is taken to ensure that the subject does not vomit, eat or take any other substance that can affect the results. That said, this and many other factors could skew the test results.
What is the punishment for drunk driving?
Punishments for drinking and driving vary from fines, license suspension, to jail time. There is also the requirement that the accused be evaluated for abuse of alcohol (or drugs) to see what programs they may be compelled to participate in. The amount of the fine, the length of suspension and the degree of jail time will depend upon the specific charge, the unique facts of the case and the quality of representation. Community service can often be negotiated as an alternative to jail.
What happens if I already have a DWI and I am charged again?
If you are charged with another DWI within 10 years of your arrest for the first one, the charge can be elevated to a felony. Should this happen, the consequence can be dire and severe. This can obviously lead to substantial jail time, a significant license suspension, and other harsh consequences like increases in court costs and fines as well as exorbitant insurance increases. Furthermore, it could affect your employment depending upon where you work.
What if I lose my license but continue to drive?
In the event that your license is suspended, you may not drive. Doing so can result in additional criminal charges. That’s why it is very important to get a conditional license, which would allow you to drive to and from work, school, church, the hospital or other relevant locations during specified times. It’s not worth the risk, particularly with a pending DWI charge, or following the resolution of such a charge. Put us to work in helping you get a conditional or hardship license.
What is the best way to beat a drunk driving charge?
By putting our firm to work for you. We will challenge the officer’s observations of your physical condition and state of sobriety; the discrepancies and/or inconsistencies in their paperwork; the manner in which they maintained, used, and operated the breath test machine; and make timely and important objections to any evidence used against you. We will also work to maintain or restore your driving privileges.
Getting legal assistance from a DWI lawyer in New York City is extremely important if you have been stopped and charged with DWI. Contact our office at 833-563-9522 to talk to our highly skilled DWI attorneys at JOEY JACKSON LAW, PLLC..