A DWI or drug possession charge can have serious lifetime repercussions. First and foremost, it is important to understand that a criminal conviction in New York will be with you for life. There is no expungement or sealing of criminal records in New York State (except in the case of a juvenile).
In addition to a permanent criminal record, each crime carries specific penalties such as the potential loss of one’s driving privileges, fines, and jail time. For most people, a driver’s license is their ticket to work, especially in areas that do not have convenient public transportation. It may simply not be feasible to arrange a ride or a taxi to and from work on a consistent basis.
Therefore, if you are being charged with a crime it is imperative that you consult with a skilled attorney before entering a plea of guilty. A skilled attorney will outline your rights, plot a course so you can take control of your situation, and empower you to best defend the charges. Despite the severe consequences outlined below, an attorney may be able to mount an effective defense so that the charges can be reduced or even dismissed.
Consequences of a New York DWI
In New York, if you are caught driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) (VTL 1192-2). If you plead guilty or are convicted, you face a fine of between $500 and $1,000, a $395-$400 surcharge, suspension or revocation of your driving privileges, and even up to one year in prison. Depending on the severity of your offense, you may be required to attend a victim impact program, or to install an ignition interlock device in your car that limits your use of your car and entails additional costs. In addition to court-imposed penalties, if you are convicted of drunk driving in NY, your auto insurance carrier reserves the right to drop you completely (and in most cases will). Carriers who may be willing to take you on are likely to charge premiums of nearly double your original payments.
If you are caught driving with a BAC of 0.18% or higher, you can be charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated (VTL 1192-2a), which carries with it the same penalties as a DWI but a heftier fine of between $1,000 and $2,500.
Common Law DWI
If an officer pulls you over and, based on his experience, training, and observation of tangible signs such as slurred speech, odor, and/or bloodshot eyes, determines that you are showing signs of being intoxicated, you can be charged with violating common law DWI/DUI (VTL 1192-3), without being asked to take a breathalyzer test that determines your BAC. A conviction of this offense carries with it the same penalties as a DWI.
Consequences of Drug Possession
Drug-related offenses that occur inside automobiles are considered full-scale crimes, not mere traffic violations, under the law. Each drug-related offense carries with it different penalties in New York.
If you are caught with drug paraphernalia, or diluents, dilutants, adulterants, mixing compounds commonly used to make narcotics, gelatin capsules, glassine envelopes, vials, other materials commonly used to package drugs, scales, balances, or other utensils designed to measure or make drugs, in your car, it will be presumed to be yours. If you are convicted of using or possessing drug paraphernalia in your car, you can face a Class A misdemeanor charge, which may mean jail for up to one year and a fine of $1,000.
If you have been charged with drug possession or possession of a controlled substance in New York, the severity of penalty you face is directly related to the amount and type of drug you are found with. Charges, in effect, range from misdemeanor charges for small quantities of marijuana to Class A-1 felony charges for several ounces of illicit stimulants.
You can be charged with the sale of a controlled substance, a Class D felony, if you knowingly and unlawfully sell a controlled substance from your car. Because your car is not entitled to the same legal expectation of privacy as your home, selling drugs from your car is treated exactly the same as if you sold drugs on the street or anywhere else.
How you choose to handle the DWI or drug possession charges against you will have consequences that can last many years. An experienced attorney can assist you in best preparing your case, and may be able to mitigate the damaging effect that such charges can have.