Westchester County Felony DWI Lawyer
Most DWI cases are violations or misdemeanors where a conviction is unlikely to result in jail time. However, there are certain scenarios where a DWI can be charged as a felony. Being labeled as a felon can affect every portion of your future from employment, to eligibility for government benefits, to where you can live. Making matters worse, convictions for some drunk driving felonies can result in a mandatory minimum jail sentence.
A Westchester County felony DWI lawyer could help you fight back. An aggressive DWI attorney can work to defend your rights both before the case gets to court and during a trial to help you to maintain your freedom and your driving privileges.
What Makes a Westchester County DWI Offense a Felony?
Unlike in many other jurisdictions, courts in Westchester County do not use the extent of the alleged intoxication as a factor in determining the seriousness of the charge. Instead, the main reason for someone to face a felony-level DWI charge is if they have a prior conviction for drinking and driving on their criminal record.
According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Code §1193(c), a conviction for a DWI is a felony if a driver has at least one prior conviction for a drunk driving charge in the past ten years. This applies regardless of the nature of the intoxicating substance or if the conviction occurred in another state’s courts.
A DWI can also be a felony if a driver has a prior conviction for vehicular assault or manslaughter. This is the only circumstance where a drunk driving charge becomes a felony that does not require a prior DWI conviction. While there are situations where DWI-related offenses can bring felony charges, such as endangering a child or causing bodily harm to other people, a core DWI charge is only a felony under these limited circumstances. An attorney in Westchester County could determine if a particular DWI charge meets the requirements to become a felony.
Is it Possible to Suppress a Breathalyzer Test Result at Trial?
One of the best opportunities to defeat a felony DWI charge is by fighting the admissibility of the BAC test. There are a few ways that it could be possible for defense counsel to suppress the results of these tests.
The first way is by establishing that the police stop itself was illegal. Law enforcement may not pull over a driver without a reason. If they lack reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or a criminal offense, it is unlawful for the police to pull over a driver. If they do so, any evidence they collect following the stop could be suppressed at trial. This could include a resulting breath test.
It can also be possible to suppress the results of a test that was administered inappropriately. This could be possible of an uncertified person gave the test or the machine was not property calibrated. A Westchester County lawyer could determine if this a viable defense strategy in a felony DWI case.
What Happens if I Refuse a Breath Test?
Like other states, New York has an “implied consent” law that requires drivers to comply with breathalyzer tests when under suspicion of DWI. However, this law cannot force a driver to take a test against their will. While it is impossible to force a driver to take a breath test, the law does provide stiff penalties for anyone that refuses.
A refusal can start with a civil fine. This fine is several hundred dollars and increases for anyone with a prior conviction in the last five years. On top of the civil fine, a refusal could lead to the suspension of driving privileges.
Convictions for Misdemeanor vs. Felony DWI
A conviction for misdemeanor DWI may create a criminal record, require someone to pay significant fees, and cause a loss of license. Convictions for felony DWIs are much more serious. The least harsh version of the felony DWI is a Class E felony. This means that a conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, will require a loss of license for at least one year, and fines that may be as much as $2,000.
A third-offense DWI, or subsequent convictions beyond this number are Class D felonies. The maximum prison sentence here is seven years, but anyone who is convicted must go to jail for at least ten days. A third conviction will also likely result in a permanent loss of license, as well as the payment of astronomical fines. A Westchester County lawyer could protect a person’s future in a felony DWI case.
Call a Westchester County Felony DWI Attorney
Local police and courts take allegations of drunk driving very seriously. Any form of impaired driving may lead to an arrest and serious consequences that affect every part of your future. This is doubly the case when police allege an instance of felony DWI.
A Westchester County felony DWI lawyer could help you if you are facing allegations involving aggravated drinking and driving. Contact a lawyer today to let them get to work for you.