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Do I Need a Focused Attorney?

June 15, 2024

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Many individuals who are facing a charge of DWI or DWAI are understandably nervous. They are unsure if they’re going to jail, what the consequences of the charge will ultimately mean financially and for their job, whether their license will be suspended or revoked, and about the process more generally.

As a result, an individual facing a DWI or DWAI charge must hire an experienced attorney to handle such cases. An attorney experienced in handling DWI and DWAI cases can rely upon their expertise and knowledge to guide their client through the process, identify any issues or possible defenses to the prosecution’s case, and obtain the best result possible.

Generally speaking, any impaired driving charge requires the prosecution to prove four (4) elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) operation,

(2) of a motor vehicle,

(3) on a public highway in the State of New York,

(4) while in an intoxicated or impaired condition.

An attorney experienced in handling DWI and DWAI cases will be far better suited to identify possible issues with the prosecution’s case. Such issues might include whether the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop, whether the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest, and whether all policies and procedures were properly followed following the arrest. Conversely, attorneys with less experience handling DWI and DWAI cases will inherently be less prepared to identify and use such issues to their client’s advantage.

An attorney with significant experience handling DWI and DWAI cases will also be better suited to identify possible issues with the prosecution’s compliance with the requirements of the court process. Such issues might include whether the case has properly followed the accused’s right to a speedy trial guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s 6th Amendment, and whether the prosecution has abided by its requirements of discovery. Again, an attorney with less experience in handling DWI and DWAI cases will, inherently, be less prepared to identify and use such issues to their client’s advantage.

Moreover, an attorney with significant experience in handling DWI and DWAI cases, will be better positioned to advise their client of the non-legal consequences of their current charge. For example, CDL holders face an automatic one-year revocation of their CDL if convicted of any alcohol-related driving offense (DWI or DWAI). In addition, individuals facing their second alcohol-related driving offense or more may not be eligible for the Impaired Driver Program through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles depending on when their first offense occurred, which may eliminate their ability to obtain a conditional license from the DMV while their license is suspended or revoked by the Court per the terms of their sentence. International travel and automobile insurance are, understandably, of great concern to many clients. Finally, some individuals who would face their third alcohol-related driving conviction may face significantly enhanced administrative penalties enforced by the DMV, including automatic administrative revocation of all driving privileges for five (5) years, followed by a term of a restricted use license with mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and may even see revocation of all driving privileges in New York State for their lifetime if also deemed to have a “serious driving offense” pursuant to DMV regulations.

As a result, it is of course preferable to hire an attorney who is experienced in handling DWI and DWAI cases. Doing so will not only allow the client to obtain the best possible result in their case, but will also ensure that they are fully advised of all options and possible ramifications of their charges. Therefore, while a singular focus on DWI and DWAI cases certainly isn’t necessary, hiring an attorney with significant experience is crucial.

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