Long Island Drinking and Driving Defense Lawyer
Drunk driving is not a matter of being “a little tipsy.” Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a crime in which the amount of alcohol in your system is higher than the legal limit. Driving under the influence of alcohol on Long Island can lead to stiff fines, possible jail time and a loss of driving privileges. Anyone who has been charged with a drunk driving offense should work with an experienced Long Island DWI defense lawyer.
Thousands Arrested for Drunk Driving on Long Island Each Year
New York law enforcement takes a tough stance on drinking and driving. In a 2019 survey, 69 percent of state drivers thought that drinking and driving would result in an arrest “always” or “most of the time.” New York State Police conducted 1,218 dedicated patrols and 244 fixed sobriety checkpoints that year. The result was 660 DWI arrests, according to the state’s 2019 Highway Safety Annual Report.
In 2018 upstate New York accounted for 70 percent of the state’s impaired driving arrests involving alcohol or drugs, while New York City had 18 percent and Long Island had 12 percent of arrests. Suffolk County has significantly outnumbered Nassau County in terms of DWI arrests in recent years. In 2019, 269 people were arrested for DWI felonies in Nassau County and 1,762 for DWI misdemeanors, compared to Suffolk County’s 419 DWI felony arrests and 2,472 DWI misdemeanor arrests.
New York has introduced strict laws and harsh penalties over the years to deter drunk driving and make it a serious crime. However, the perceived risk of getting arrested for drinking and driving tends to decline with driver age. Eighty percent of state drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 expect arrests “always” or “most of the time,” compared to just over half of drivers age 65 and older.
What Are the Different Types of DWI Charges on Long Island?
If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or higher, it means you are legally drunk under New York law. The state has a Zero Tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. For drivers under 21, a BAC reading of .02 percent or higher can mean significant penalties for violating the law. Here are the specific drunk driving offenses a driver can be charged with on Long Island:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): The driver’s BAC level is .08 or higher. For commercial vehicle drivers, the legal limit is a BAC of .04. Slurred speech, impaired motor skills or other signs of intoxication can also lead to a DWI charge.
- Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (Aggravated DWI): The driver’s BAC is .18 percent or higher, meaning that the alcohol in their system is more than twice the legal limit. Driving drunk with a passenger age 15 or younger can also result in an Aggravated DWI charge under Leandra’s Law. It is counted as an automatic felony.
- Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol): The driver’s BAC level measures between .05 percent and .07 percent. A chemical test is not necessary for a DWAI arrest if there are other indications of intoxication. This is the least serious DWI offense as it a non-criminal traffic infraction.
- Other DWAI offenses include Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (DWAI/Drug) and Driving While Ability Impaired by a Combined Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (DWAI/Combination).
What to Expect During a Long Island DWI Arrest
A Long Island driver arrested for suspected drunk driving is required to take a breath test that measures their BAC. You may think that refusing to submit to a breath test means you can’t be charged with DWI. The reality is that a police officer can still arrest you for DWI even without confirming your BAC exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent.
New York has an implied consent law for drivers. This means that all licensed drivers agree to perform chemical tests or field sobriety tests if they are suspected of DWI. Officers can also look for other signs of intoxication when they pull you over like the odor of alcohol on your breath, slurred speech or bloodshot eyes. Refusing a breath, urine or blood test is a violation of state law and results in an immediate driver’s license suspension for a year.
DWI Penalties: Consequences of Drinking and Driving on Long Island
It doesn’t matter whether a cop pulled you over for speeding down the highway, or you were arrested for DWI after leaving a party feeling well enough to drive despite having a few drinks. The bottom line is that driving under the influence of alcohol on Long Island comes with serious penalties. The higher the intoxication, the harsher the punishment.
Even your first DWI could result in hefty fines and losing your driver’s license. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle that checks your breath for the presence of alcohol. A DWI first offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor, while more serious drunk driving crimes are felony offenses. The severity of DWI penalties depends on many different factors surrounding the driver’s arrest including but not limited to:
- Driver’s BAC
- Prior DWI convictions
- Injuries caused by the driver’s behavior
- Passengers in the vehicle
A first-time DWI offense on Long Island can result in the following penalties:
- Fine between $500 and $1,000
- Up to a year in jail
- Up to three years of probation
- Driver’s license suspension for six months or more (one year for drivers under 21)
In some cases, you may be allowed to obtain a conditional driving permit for traveling to and from school, work and court obligations. The penalties increase if you are convicted of Aggravated DWI:
- Maximum fine of $2,500
- Up to a year in jail
- Three years of probation
- Driver’s license revocation for a year
Repeat DWI offenses carry even harsher punishments. Drivers with an existing Aggravated DWI conviction within the past decade can face a felony drunk driving charge, which is the most serious DWI crime in the state of New York. The potential penalties a felony DWI charge carries include:
- Fine between $1,000 and $5000
- Maximum four years in state prison
- Five years of probation
- Driver’s license revocation for a year
A third DWI offense in 10 years carries a higher fine of $2,000 to $10,000 and a potential seven-year prison sentence. A drunk driving conviction is more than just an inconvenience. It can impact a person’s life in so many ways. Not only will you have difficulty getting around without a driver’s license, but having a criminal record can affect your ability to get a job and earn a living.
Possible Defenses for a Long Island DWI
If you are arrested for DWI on Long Island, it may seem like your conviction is a done deal. Prosecutors may try to present results from a Breathalyzer or field sobriety tests performed alongside a busy highway as irrefutable. The truth is there are many ways in which the procedures and evidence used in your DWI arrest can be called into question.
For instance, the police officer who pulled you over may have conducted an illegal traffic stop. They may claim you were intoxicated simply because you had bloodshot eyes, which can be caused by other reasons besides drinking. Chemical tests and field sobriety tests are not always foolproof, even though prosecutors often treat them like they are. As an example, breath testing machines can sometimes produce inaccurate readings of how much alcohol is present in your system.
There are many other possible drunk driving defenses. You can rest assured that Brill Legal Group will explore every available avenue in your Long Island DWI case. If there are mistakes made by law enforcement, we will use them to your advantage.
Why Do I Need a Long Island DWI Attorney?
A lot can happen when you get behind the wheel of a car after having one too many alcoholic drinks. Imagine not being able to drive, having to pay expensive fines and even spending time behind bars. Ask yourself if you can afford to have a DWI arrest on your record.
When you are facing DWI charges on Long Island, having a skilled defense lawyer in your corner can make all the difference to your case. Everyone makes mistakes. Without the proper legal representation, people end up facing harsh punishments and struggling with the consequences of their mistakes for the rest of their lives.
At Brill Legal Group, we aim to build our clients a strong defense that leads to a favorable outcome, whether it is a dismissal or acquittal. As a former Nassau County Assistant District Attorney, Peter Brill knows the ins and outs of the legal system. Don’t gamble with your future and face these charges alone.
Arrested for DWI on Long Island? Contact Brill Legal Group Today.
Whether you have been arrested for your first DWI offense or a felony drunk driving charge, you need a reliable and reputable Long Island DWI defense lawyer. Brill Legal Group will ensure you are treated fairly under the law and fight for your best interests in court.
We represent the accused in Nassau County, Suffolk County and throughout Long Island. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Nassau 516-206-2002 — Suffolk 631-204-8254 — Manhattan 212-233-4141 —
Toll free 888-315-9841