Driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses carry serious penalties in New York, and in some cases, the stakes are even higher. In addition, almost every year it seems that the legislature adds additional penalties to DWI cases. When DWI sentencing enhancements apply, the punishment for a conviction may be increased beyond the normal range. At Tilem & Associates, our Westchester County DWI attorneys can explain the potential consequences of an enhanced DWI charge and plan a strategy to minimize or avoid them. We have the experience to handle felony DWIs, accident DWIs, and any other criminal drunk driving charges that you may be facing.DWI Sentencing Enhancements
The penalties for a New York DWI conviction depend on the details of the case, including whether any of the circumstances triggers a sentencing enhancement. Generally, a DWI conviction may result in prison or jail time, fines, probation, parole, the installation of an ignition interlock device, a license suspension or revocation, and other consequences. A sentencing enhancement, however, allows for additional and increased punishments upon a conviction. Understanding the potential consequences of DWI sentencing enhancements is important when considering how to proceed in a current DWI case, particularly if the prosecution offers a plea bargain for reduced charges or penalties.
DWI sentencing enhancements may apply if the defendant has a prior DWI or felony conviction or if there are certain aggravating factors involved in the case. In these situations, a DWI arrest may lead to additional criminal charges or a higher classification of the offense. Most DWI sentencing enhancements arise from the circumstances listed below. Our attorneys can determine whether an enhancement applies in your case.High BAC Level
Driving a motor vehicle on New York roads with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher is generally punishable as a misdemeanor offense. If a chemical test indicates that the driver has a BAC level of .18% or higher, however, they may be charged with an aggravated DWI. An aggravated DWI is still a misdemeanor, but a conviction may result in a larger fine and a longer driver license suspension or revocation.Commercial License
In New York, the penalties for commercial drivers are generally more severe than for ordinary drivers. In addition, the legal limit is lower. Commercial drivers with a BAC level of .04% or more may be charged with a commercial DWI and face enhanced penalties, even if they were not driving for their job at the time.Child Passengers
Leandra’s Law provides an enhanced charge for driving while intoxicated with a child aged 15 or younger in the vehicle. An aggravated DWI with a child is a class E felony offense, even for a first-time offender. The penalties for a conviction may include one to four years in prison and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. If the child was seriously injured as a result, the charge may be raised to a class C felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The death of a child passenger caused by the driver’s intoxication is a class B felony, with a maximum 25-year prison sentence.Physical Injury or Death
A serious injury to a car passenger, a pedestrian, or another person caused by drunk driving will typically result in a vehicular assault charge, which is a felony offense. The charge may be raised to vehicular assault in the first degree if more than one person was injured, a child was in the defendant’s car, the defendant has a prior DWI conviction, or the defendant’s BAC level was .18% or higher. First-degree vehicular assault is generally a class D felony, but it may be elevated to a class C felony if the defendant was driving recklessly. A fatal DWI accident may result in criminal charges for manslaughter.Prior Convictions
Many defendants face sentencing enhancements in their current DWI cases due to prior drunk or drugged driving convictions. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony DWI in the past 10 years, a second DWI charge is generally punishable as a class E felony. A third DWI charge within 10 years is a class D felony, with a possible prison sentence of up to seven years if convicted. In many cases, multiple DWI convictions will also result in a lengthy driver license suspension or revocation.Fight DWI Sentencing Enhancements With a Westchester County Attorney
At Tilem & Associates, our Westchester County lawyers can guide you through the proceedings and defend against a sentencing enhancement in your DWI case. We also can assist people who have been arrested for drunk driving or other crimes in Bronx, Queens, Kings, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Richmond, and Putnam Counties. Call 877-377-8666 or contact us online to set up an appointment regarding your case.