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.
Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It's a phrase we've all heard before and a presumption in the law that many consider to be the most important element of our criminal justice system. But did you know that this presumption does not apply in all criminal cases? If you didn't know this, you're not alone. In fact, many New Yorkers may be completely unaware of one particular law that forces people into challenging legal situations.
The law is pretty clear here in New York: drinking and driving is illegal and if you are convicted of this very serious crime, you will suffer the legal consequences which can range from fines to license suspensions to time in jail. But what about in other states? Are the risks of drinking and driving as severe? More to the point, how does New York stack up against other states in effectiveness of curbing DUIs?
The New York "move over" law was enacted after two police officers were killed during traffic stops. The law allows drivers to be cited for traffic offenses if they do not safely move over a lane when approaching police or emergency workers who are assisting drivers on the side of the road. The law includes emergency vehicles with amber lights, including towing vehicles or maintenance trucks.New York State Police plans to increase road patrols to ticket more drivers for both speed and "move over" violations. In 2011, 13,909 tickets were issued for "move over" violations, and in 2012, 12,781 were issued. Speed remains a leading cause of fatalities of and posing a threat to emergency workers, according to authorities. There are no statistics available on drivers slowing suddenly or changing lanes in order to comply with the law.
On March 12, a 26-year-old man received a prison sentence for seven years after he lost control of his vehicle while impaired in July 2012 and drove into and killed a 56-year-old construction worker in New York. The driver operated his Audi after he spent three hours drinking with friends. Law enforcement who responded to the scene could smell alcohol and noticed his bloodshot eyes. According to information released by officials, the driver was traveling eight miles over the posted speed limit. However, he did not plead guilty to felony drunk driving but to second degree vehicular manslaughter. The district attorney felt that the sentence, which was the longest prison term the accused man could legally receive, was warranted because of the circumstances surrounding the crime. The construction worker's daughter agreed although she realizes no sentence of any length will bring her father back. However, she added that the stiff penalty will send a stern warning that drunk driving will be punished and that other drivers might think twice before getting behind the wheel after they have partied. She hopes that someone else will not suffer the way her family has.
While some people in Dutchess County may believe that a drunk driving conviction is relatively minor, they may not understand just how serious of a charge it can really be. Not only will a conviction mean a permanent record, but it could also mean the loss of a driver's license, a fine or even jail time. For someone under the age of 21, however, the consequences are even more serious.
The best way to avoid a drunk driving charge is to never drive impaired in the first place. However, people are sometimes unfairly charged with DUI and DWI for a variety of reasons. Anyone in New York facing drunk driving charges should be well aware of their rights to a vigorous defense in a court of law.
Police in New York often cast a very wide net when cracking down on drunk driving during major holidays such as this past Labor Day. Such a broad search is likely to return false positives due to the nature of field sobriety testing. Repercussions for those charged with DUI or DWI can include the loss of their driver's licenses and major increases in insurance costs.
Readers in Poughkeepsie may be interested in the recent DWI charges filed against a Long Island man. The man reportedly drove into a home in his neighborhood on Aug. 13. Though nobody was injured, significant damage was done to the property. In addition to the couple who owns the property, two children and a family friend were asleep in the home at the time of the crash.
When a person is accused of driving under the influence, he or she needs a strong criminal defense to prevent a conviction. Sometimes additional charges are levied with the drunk driving charge, which may make a judge or jury less sympathetic to the defendant. In these cases, it is important that a criminal defense seeks to show that the accused was improperly charged or that there were extenuating circumstances.