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.
As the school year winds down, high school seniors all over New York and across the nation are getting excited about graduation. Not only does it mark a major milestone in any teens' life, it also means attending scores of graduation parties with friends and classmates.
For as long as people have been getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, there have been efforts by law enforcement authorities and activists to prevent this from happening. While some people might argue that some of these measures go too far, there are others that claim law enforcement officers and political officials still aren't doing enough. Although all states have statutes and laws to punish those who drive under the influence, each state goes about its business a little differently.
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.
In a 2014 letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, New York's own Sen. Chuck Schumer urged federal regulators to place a ban on a new product called Palcohol that the senator believed would become "the Kool-Aid of teen binge drinking." To this day, Sen. Schumer still believes that people would undoubtedly abuse Palcohol; and with recent approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, it's possible that Sen. Schumer's concern could become a reality down the road.