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DWI Arrests, Charges, & Penalties in Western New York

If You have been Arrested for Drunk Driving in Western New York you need to understand the Legal Charges against you and the potential Penalties that you may face in court.

Be aware that the Western New York Courts treat DWI cases very seriously, and the fines and sentences for DWI are frequently imposed to the maximum extent that the law allows! You must be well prepared for your court date and ready to appear with your best possible defense strategy.

In order to help you understand more about the entire judicial process following your DWI citation, we have posted some general information below in the form of Frequently Asked DWI Questions & Answers. Since every case is different, this information should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions About DWI Cases in Western New York Section 1. - DWI Arrests 1.1 - What Should I do if the Police Stop Me?

Try to remain calm and do your best to think rationally. You must understand that the police are simply doing their job and they do not generally have anything against you personally.

If you are arrested for DWI, this may just reflect the officer's opinion. Maintain a polite attitude, and do not fight or become rude towards the officer. Any confrontational behavior will probably be used against you in court.

If you have any questions about how to proceed, ask the police officer if you can speak to an attorney. You have the right to speak to a lawyer at any time and our Turbo Team Attorneys are available 24/7 to speak to you.

If you were arrested for DWI, your optimum initial counsel can probably be obtained from an experienced DWI Lawyer. If you already contacted a general law practice for your initial counsel, ask for a referral to a competent DWI Lawyer or contact the Turbo Team at 716.222.2222.

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1.2 What Should I do After a Police Officer Directs Me to Pull Over?

As soon as it is safe to do so, use your turn signal to indicate that you are pulling over and carefully bring the car to a stop in a safe location beside the road.

After stopping, turn off your engine and also turn off any audio system, but leave your lights on if it is dark. Locate your drivers license and vehicle registration to present to the officer.

Ask the officer why you were pulled over. The law requires "probable cause" for the officer to seize your person.

Without probable cause, the officer may be violating your constitutional rights against unreasonable seizure, and any evidence gained from this seizure may be ruled inadmissible at trial and could cause the case to be dismissed.

Maintaining control of your vehicle and your emotions, and politely obliging the officer's requests will generally signal sobriety, rather than intoxication. However, agreeing to take the breath test, or not, always has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. (See question 1.7. below.)

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1.3 - Should I Admit to the Police the True Amount That I Had to Drink?

A competent lawyer can never recommend that someone lie. However, you should know that everything you say might be recorded, documented, and used against you later.

If you have had several alcoholic drinks over a short period of time, and you admit it to the police officer, this may increase the probability that you will be arrested for DWI.

The officer will be looking for many signs that you may be intoxicated. Consequently, there is no perfect answer that can fit all situations.

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1.4 - Do I Really Have to Answer the Police Officers' Questions?

No, you don't.

However, we strongly advise that any answer you give, or any refusal to answer a question, should be done politely and respectfully.

Always remember, the police officer is looking for signs of intoxication and evaluating HOW you say things as well as WHAT you say.

If a police officer indicates that you are under arrest, you now have a right to speak to a lawyer before you answer questions.

You should; however, be aware of New York's Implied Consent Law. Failure to comply with an officer's request to submit to a breath or chemical test to determine your level of intoxication may result in your license being suspended for a year. (Also see question 1.7. below.)

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1.5 - Do I Have to Take the Field Sobriety Tests?

If the police officer senses a possibility that you may be intoxicated he/she will probably ask you to perform field sobriety tests.

The most common tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmous, the one-leg stand, the walk and turn, and the alphabet test.

If you feel as though you are able to pass these tests, agree to take them and do the best you can.

Be aware that field sobriety tests are continuously debated as to their accuracy and validity.

It is important that you state to the officer any disability that may prevent you from taking and passing a field sobriety test. Possible reasons include an injured knee, back, or feet, a head cold, any recent surgery, a head injury, or low blood sugar...

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1.6 - What Should I Do if I am Arrested and Taken to the Police Station?

Maintain a positive outlook and be polite.

Tell the officers that you don't wish to make any statements without an attorney present. Ask to use the phone to call a competent DWI Attorney, and if necessary ask for a phone book to find the number of a competent attorney.

Under the law, you must be given a reasonable amount of time to attempt to contact an attorney.

A Turbo Team DWI Lawyer is available to assist you 24/7 - Call 716.222.2222.

Remember that in order to avoid being accused of refusing the Breathalyzer test under the Implied Consent Law, you will have to take the test at some point in order to avoid a mandatory suspension of your license.

Balance this reality with your perception of how much you've had to drink.

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1.7 - Can I Refuse to Take the Chemical Test(s)?

You have the right to refuse to take a chemical test.

However, if you refuse to take a chemical test and you are found guilty of the DWI charges against you the penalties can be severe.

"A driver who refuses to take a chemical test (normally a test of breath, blood or urine) can receive a driver license revocation of at least one year and must pay a $500 civil penalty ($550 for a driver of commercial vehicles) to apply for a new driver license."

"A driver who refuses a chemical test during the 5 years after a DWI-related charge will have their driver license revoked for at least 18 months and must pay a $750 civil penalty to apply for a new driver license."

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Section 2 - DWI Charges 2.1 - What is a DWI or DUI in Western New York?

DWI - Driving While Intoxicated is a misdemeanor in New York State. A conviction leaves a person with a criminal record. In addition, for first time offenders, there will be a fine between $500-$1000, and a license revocation for up to 6 months.

See DWI Statutes VTL §1192(2) and VTL §1192(3)

DUI - Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol Or Other Drugs is the act of operating any vehicle (even a bicycle, boat, or tractor...) while intoxicated. Depending upon the specific jurisdiction DUI may also be referred to as DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), DUII (Driving Under Intense Influence), OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), OMVI (Operating A Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated).
The term DWI is applicable in Western New York.

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2.2 - What is an Aggravated DWI in Western New York?

Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated is a first offense misdemeanor in New York State for a driver operating a vehicle at a 0.18% BAC or higher. For a first time offender, the crime is punishable by a fine between $1,000 - $2,500, or a jail term of up to one year or both, or up to 3 or 5 years probation or any combination of all three penalties.

See DWI Statutes VTL §1192-2a.

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2.3 - What is a DWAI in Western New York?

DWAI Alcohol - Driving While Ability Impaired through use of Alcohol is not a misdemeanor; it is only a traffic violation. Although a very tough traffic violation, this is not a crime in New York State. Evidence of alcohol impairment includes a BAC of 0.05% to 0.07%, or other indications of impairment. It carries a fine of $300 and a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail. Your driver's license may be suspended or revoked for at least 3 months.

See DWI statute VTL §1192-1..

DWAI Drugs - Driving While Ability Impaired through use of Drugs , however, is a misdemeanor in New York State.

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Section 3 - Questions About DWI Penalties - Fines & Sentences in WNY 3.1 - Can I Possibly Win Against My DWI Charges?

The answer is YES, this is possible and it does happen. Outright dismissal of all charges is not common, but favorable judgments can be obtained.

How your particular case may turn out depends on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding your specific DWI stop and arrest, and the defense that your DWI Lawyer can make on your behalf.

If the police made errors in handling your arrest, or if the District Attorney mishandles the prosecution of the case, you may completely beat your DWI charges.

More commonly, you may be able to plea bargain your DWI case to obtain a more favorable reduced sentence. Your Turbo Team DWI Lawyer will be able to advise you on how to obtain your optimum reduced penalty.

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3.2 - Is DWI a Crime in Western New York?

Yes, DWI is a crime in Western New York, and DWI cases are prosecuted in the criminal justice system.

Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, your DWI may be either a misdemeanor or a felony.

In comparison, a conviction of Driving While Ability Impaired is usually considered a violation rather than a crime, and this does not normally result in a criminal record.

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3.3 - Can I Plea Bargain From DWI Down to a Lesser Offense?

Your ability to plea bargain a DWI case depends on many factors, but be assured that we have negotiated many reduced pleas on behalf of our clients.

Every DWI case is different and your case should never be given a "cookie cutter" approach by Your DWI Lawyer.

Your Turbo Team DWI Lawyer will carefully evaluate the specific details of your DWI case and advise you of the optimum approach to take on your day in court.

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3.4 - How Will a DWI Conviction Affect My Employment?

This is a critical question that affects both you and your family. You must fully understand all implications for your employment before taking a plea, and the best answer may may vary depending on your particular job.

A DWI conviction is a crime, and will rsult in a criminal record. Any employment that requires a professional license or background checks may be affected by your DWI conviction.

You may overcome this issue with a Certificate Against Disability, which your lawyer can apply for on your behalf.

Additionally, any conviction may include a jail sentence. If you are pleading, your attorney should try to get the sentence commuted.

If your case is going to trial, your attorney should try to find out what possible sentence the judge is considering if you lose. Many times a sentence is more lenient if a plea can be worked out in order to avoid a trial.

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3.5 - If Found Guilty of DWI Will I be Sent to Jail?

Being charged with a DWI does not automatically equate to a jail sentence.

Sentencing for jail depends on the circumstances of the case, whether the DWI is a first offense misdemeanor or a repeated offense, as well as whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of your DWI.

Alternatives To A Jail Sentence such as a drug rehabilitation program, probation, drug court, or a conditional discharge may be applicable, depending on the facts and circumstances of Your case.

Additionally, violations of your rights, such as an improper stop or BAC tests that did not meet regulated standards, may result in reduced or dismissed charges.

Your Turbo Team DWI Lawyer will examine all aspects of your case in order to determine if reduced or dismissed charges may be a likely outcome for you.

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3.6 - How Long Will a DWI Stay on My Record?

If you are 18 years old or younger, your record could be sealed if you are found to be a youthful offender.

While a DWI conviction results in a criminal record, a DWAI does not. Your Turbo Team DWI Attorney will thoroughly review all legal strategies for your case and, if possible, strive to negotiate for lesser charges or dismissal of your DWI case.

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3.7 - If Convicted of DWI, Will I Lose My Driving License?

Whether you get to keep your driver's license or lose it depends predominantly on the specific circumstances of your particular DWI incident. If you are charged with DWI, your license may be temporarily suspended pending prosecution.

If you are under the age of 21 and are charged with a DWI, there is an automatic license suspension for one year. For a first DWI conviction, your license can be revoked for at least 6 months, for a second conviction and third conviction for at least a year.

If a law enforcement official requested that you take a chemical test, and you refused to submit to the test, your driver's license can be suspended for one year.

However, You do have the legal right to seek a Hardship License that would permit you to drive to and from work, school, or certain critical activities.

Also see FAQ 3.8 and FAQ 3.9 on Conditional and Hardship licenses.

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FAQ 3.8 - Following a DWI, What is a Conditional Driving License?

According to the DMV, "If you are convicted of an alcohol or drug related driving violation, your license or privilege to drive in New York State will be revoked or suspended. However, you maybe eligible for aConditional Driving License or a Conditional Driving Privilege if you participate in New York State's Drinking Driver Program (DDP)."

"If you qualify for a conditional license or conditional driving privilege, you will be allowed to legally drive within certain limitations."

"A conditional license is not valid for driving a vehicle that requires the operator to hold a commercial (CDL) driver license."

"To receive a conditional license or conditional driving privilege, you must participate in the DDP."

Additionally, If you had the opportunity to participate in the DDP within 5 years of your current arrest, you will not be eligible for a conditional license.

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3.9 - Following a DWI, What is a Hardship Driving License?

A Hardship Driving License may be granted by a judge on the day that your license is suspended, based on evidence of your inability to find alternate transportation to work, school or certain other important activities, such as doctor's appointments...

Similar to a conditional license, a hardship license is very restrictive and only allows driving to and from work, school and other specifically designated activities.

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3.10 - I Have a Clean Record Up to Now - Will They Give Me a Break?

It is certainly possible for you to obtain a more favorable outcome, either through plea negotiations or trial.

There are powerful groups that pressure lawmakers to pass laws, such as the "Aggravated DWI Law", which enhances the penalties for accused drunken drivers, with a fine of up to $2500, and a license suspension of up to 18 months.

A Judge or DA may find themselves in the news if they are perceived as being too lenient towards an accused drunken driver - making every DWI case a "political hot potato."

Your best defense usually involves strong legal issues and/or positive evidence. Showing you are not a drunk, that you are a good person (lacking a criminal record, good job, family, etc.), and that you are taking positive steps to help yourself (counseling, going back to school...) are always important favorable factors that your attorney should present strongly to the court on your behalf.

Most Judges and DAs usually try to give this positive information fair consideration.

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Client Reviews
For my case it looked as if it were insurmountable odds. Mr. Trbovich called me and dealt with my case with confidence I had no doubt that he would have my case fully dismissed. Very dependable and cares about what your ultimate needs are as an attorney W.G.
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