Residents throughout New York State are busy preparing for the upcoming holidays. For many, this time of year is about gathering with family and friends to eat, talk and reflect. Frequently, these types of holiday celebrations also include alcoholic beverages and, for those individuals who must drive home from a celebration, it's important to have a designated driver.
As we've noted in previous blog posts, the penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction in the state of New York are harsh and include serving time behind bars, paying hefty fines and losing one's driving privileges. In addition to these penalties, individuals who are charged with driving while intoxicated while transporting a child under the age of 16 are subject to additional penalties.
A driver who is stopped by a police officer and subsequently asked to submit to a Breathalyzer or chemical test may wrongly believe that he or she has no choice but to take the test. While New York State has an implied consent law which means that anyone who obtains a driver's license consents to a chemical test, a driver can choose to refuse the test and, in many cases, doing so may be his or her best interest.
From the moment a driver sees the flashing lights of a police car in the rear-view mirror, his or her life can change forever. The negative implications associated with a drunk driving conviction are significant and numerous and include costly fines, driver's license revocation, time behind bars, marred reputation, job loss and damage to personal and professional relationships. Despite the high stakes associated with a DWI conviction, many people wrongly believe that there's no way to successfully defend against DWI charges.
In recent years, it has become obvious that the criminal justice system is far too punishing when it comes to the penalties and consequences it applies to people who run afoul of the law. Mostly this is seen in the area of drug crimes, where mandatory minimums and harsh sentences run rampant. It has led to people who commit relatively minor offenses, such as carrying around small amounts of illicit materials, to spend decades in jail.
In our last blog post, we discussed the legal concept of reasonable suspicion with regard to a police officer being able to stop and pull over a driver who is suspected of drunk driving. One major caveat to the reasonable suspicion requirement is a DUI or sobriety checkpoint.
In order to protect the Constitutional and civil rights of everyday citizens, the criminal justice system includes certain provisions and checks and balances that limit the power of governmental entities. When discussing criminal cases involving allegations of drunk driving, one of the first things that an attorney will investigate is whether or not a traffic stop was legal.
Whether you live in New York or another state, chances are you've heard someone say that a passenger cannot be charged with a DUI during a traffic stop. It's a common presumption and one that is not without merit. If a passenger is not in the driver's seat then it can be assumed that they are not operating the vehicle. If they are not operating the vehicle, then they cannot be charged with driving under the influence.
A lot of people think that the best way for the nation to put an end to drinking and driving altogether is for people to simply stop making the decision to consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. Seems simple right? Well, not exactly.
When most people think of the term "felony DUI," they probably think of multiple DUIs on a person's driving record. That's because here in New York, as well as in other states, successive DUI convictions are treated as felonies, meaning steeper penalties for those who are accused. But here in New York, this isn't the only way in which a person could face a felony DUI charge.