New York has very strict laws when it comes to drunk driving offenses. The state’s no-nonsense approach can lead to harsh penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) for everyone from first-time offenders to repeat offenders. In a recent case, a New Jersey man was charged with DWI after he got behind the wheel of his car while his driving privileges were revoked in New York.
William A. Lopez-Garcia, 43, was charged with DWI and first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Both are felonies. He was also charged with circumvention of an ignition interlock device, a misdemeanor.
Lopez-Garcia was accused of driving drunk in Orangeburg, Rockland County. He was driving a 2006 Volkswagen when an Orangetown police officer stopped him for traffic violations. The cop said Lopez-Garcia seemed to be intoxicated.
Lopez-Garcia was arrested after refusing to take a breathalyzer. Authorities determined that he had been driving despite having his driving privileges revoked in New York. His car was missing an ignition interlock device (IID) in violation of a court order.
Individuals convicted of a drunk driving offense in the state may be required to install an IID on their vehicle as a condition of their release. IID may even be mandatory for first-time DWI offenders. The device monitors the motorist’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and prevents them from driving if their BAC is 0.045 or higher.
In this particular case, not only was Lopez-Garcia driving without the mandatory IID in his vehicle, but he also refused to submit to a breathalyzer upon being stopped by a police officer. Under New York State law, a motorist arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving must submit to a formal breath test to determine BAC. Refusal to provide a breath sample has automatic consequences including fines and loss of driving privileges along with a DWI charge.
While breath tests are based on simple scientific principles, they are not always foolproof as they can easily be performed incorrectly. Anyone accused of drunk driving should speak to an experienced DWI attorney to ensure their rights are protected and to determine if there is a possibility of retaining their driving privileges.