Cuyahoga man exploits DWI loophole

After serving a full four-year sentence for his fifth DWI conviction in 10 years, a New York man has managed to defy Cuyahoga County prosecutors thanks to a loophole in New York’s DWI law. The frustration from this loophole has led the Cuyahoga County prosecutor to press for changes to the statute.

In the case at hand, a defendant arrested in March 2013 on a DWI charge ultimately served the entire four-year sentence that was handed down. Under New York’s DWI law, known as Leandra’s Law, he was required to serve post-incarceration probation. However, because of an oversight, the law as written does not give the courts the power to impose additional jail time on a defendant who has already served his or her entire sentence. Because of this loophole, the defendant in this case refused to comply with the requirements of the probation department. Specifically, he refused to comply with the probation rule against consuming alcohol.

In these situations, the court has only two options: order the defendant to stay in the probation program or revoke the probation. Since a further jail sentence cannot be imposed, revoking a defendant’s probation would do nothing other than waive the requirement that his or her vehicle is fitted with an interlock device. In most cases, the courts are opting to leave the probation in place when the requirements are violated as they see removing the interlock requirement as a gift, not a punishment.

While this loophole may be an unintended benefit to those who have already served their full DWI sentences, it’s important to know that consequences are still applicable through the probation system for anyone who has not served his or her entire original sentence. Individuals facing the potential of revoked probation on DWI charges should retain legal counsel immediately. An attorney with experience in criminal defense law may be able to help his or her clients understand what legal jeopardy they may currently face.