Drunk driving arrests in New York have reached a new level with recent legislative changes, increases in local funding, technological advances, and coordinated law enforcement efforts. In many cases, people who have been stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) do not understand the significance of the implied consent law or the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test. Guidance from a Westchester County DWI lawyer, however, can prepare you for the choices that follow. At Tilem & Associates, we have vigorously defended drivers in DWI refusal cases, helping them avert or minimize the consequences that they are facing.New York’s Implied Consent Law and DWI Stops
Under New York law, any person who drives a motor vehicle in the state is deemed to have given their consent to chemical testing to determine the alcohol or drug content of their blood. In a typical scenario, after pulling you over for a traffic violation, a police officer may request that you take a breath test. If the test indicates that you have consumed alcohol or if you are placed under arrest, you can expect that the officer will request a sample of your blood, breath, urine, or saliva for chemical testing to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC). You do have the right to decline. The police officer must inform you that if you refuse to submit to chemical testing, your driver’s license will be immediately suspended and subsequently revoked. If you do refuse, however, the police cannot force you to take a chemical test, unless they obtain a court order compelling you to submit to a chemical blood test for reasonable cause.Consequences of DWI Refusal
Although the prosecution may have a more difficult time proving a DWI charge without a BAC measurement, a refusal to submit to chemical testing may be used against the defendant in court. In addition, there are civil penalties associated with a DWI refusal. If you refuse a chemical test, the arresting officer will file a report with the court, and your driver license will be suspended until an administrative hearing. Within 15 days of the incident, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles will schedule the Refusal Hearing, which is independent of any criminal proceedings associated with a DWI charge. Since DWI Refusal Hearings are considered civil matters, the standard of proof is not as high as in criminal cases. Fortunately, you can retain a DWI attorney to represent you at the hearing and cross-examine any live witnesses. If you prevail at the Refusal Hearing, your driving privileges will be reinstated. If the administrative law judge concludes that you refused the chemical test, your license will be revoked immediately, regardless of the outcome in your criminal DWI case.
A first-time DWI refusal will result in a $500 civil penalty and a minimum one-year revocation of driving privileges for most people. If the DWI refusal occurs within five years of a DWI-related charge or a previous chemical test refusal, the civil penalty is increased to $750, with a license revocation period of at least 18 months. The licenses of drivers younger than 21 and commercial operators are typically revoked for longer periods. License revocation could lead to the more serious criminal offense of AUO if a person drives with a suspended or revoked license. With these consequences at stake, finding an experienced DWI attorney to represent you during the administrative proceedings, as well as the criminal proceedings, can be vital.Navigate a DWI Refusal Case with Guidance from a Westchester County Lawyer
If you are facing a DWI charge, you have the right to evaluate your options with a criminal defense lawyer. The Westchester County attorneys at Tilem & Associates can provide advice and dedicated representation after a DWI refusal or arrest. We also represent people in areas throughout Bronx, Queens, Kings, Nassau, Suffolk, Richmond, Rockland, and Putnam Counties. To request your free consultation, call Tilem & Associates at 877-377-8666 or complete our online contact form. Our skilled defense team can handle any driving-related criminal case, including drug DWI and AUO charges.