Conviction rates for New York DWI depends greatly on the specific county, and if it is a first offense. The State’s conviction rate is 55.28%, while parts of it (such as Ontario County and Broom County) go up to 93% conviction rate.
However, do remember that DWI is not a case where there is a presumption of guilt before innocence. There is also that there are different ways to say there was a ‘conviction’ in a case; from accepting plea bargains, to pleading guilty, to a verdict handed down by a judge or jury.
In addition, even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you may still be sentenced for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), a lesser charge that does not carry a criminal record. There are separate penalties for refusing to take sobriety tests.
You may find it is much easier to ‘win’ via plea bargaining and getting a reduced sentence. If you’re advised to do just to avoid having a criminal record and mandatory jail time, then it’s a matter of getting back on your feet and ensuring this doesn’t happen again.
Here’s what to do after you leave the court:
1) Pay Off All Relevant Fines and Fees
Don’t let debt and court-ordered payments bring you down. This includes paying your attorney fees as well. You need to clear this before you can move on.
Remember that right now you’re a free man (or woman) and that you, at least, have options. Financing these payments may be a problem, so tighten your belts and get rid of non-essentials and luxuries. If you can’t pay your court fines, you will go to jail instead.
If you believe you will experience problems paying in time, the court tends to appreciate being forewarned about the need for an extension instead of leaving it up to the last minute.
2) Get your Car Out of the Impound Asap
While your license to drive may be suspended for 3 months even in a DWAI conviction, your spouse or other relatives may drive for domestic matters. It’s a waste to have it sit in the impound while the case is being heard.
The court may order the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device at your own expense. Though expensive, this may actually be a good thing since the added security against repeat drunk driving means it’s more likely you will receive a limited license to drive even before your suspension period is up.
3) Apply for a Conditional or Restricted License
When losing the ability to drive may cause undue hardship to your family, you may apply for and receive a conditional license that allows you to drive even during the span of your sentencing, if only to and from work or to school.
4) Coordinate with your Boss for Minimal Disruption to your Work Timetable
Speak to your boss and convince them that it is a very temporary and singular lapse of judgment. Show that you are truly remorseful and that you will not do it again. That your work speaks for itself and that the company will lose nothing by keeping you on through your time with a suspended license.
You may need to get up earlier than the usual or offer to work longer hours and be extra helpful in the office. Do anything you can to make sure the stigma of ‘drunk driver’ isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when people hear your name.
5) Dutifully Serve Out the Terms of your Sentence
You will have to attend mandatory drunk driving education and periodic testing. You may also need to perform community service. These are not optional. Don’t miss any of the weekly appointments or you’re not getting your license back from the DMV.
6) Don’t Drink and Drive Again
A first offense is a misdemeanor. A second offense is a felony which carries a criminal record, mandatory jail time, and the court is much, much less willing to cooperate in plea deals. You may even be considered a ‘hardcore’ drunk driver resistant to education and rehabilitation.
Going without the assistance of an experienced New York DWI lawyer is therefore not an option. Only a DWI lawyer’s familiarity with driving laws, local court conditions, and arguing the necessity of proving intoxication beyond reasonable doubt, stands any chance of getting an acquittal.
DUI courts are famously overstuffed with case backlogs, so don’t let your life be destroyed by the grinding wheels of bureaucracy just looking to get it over with quickly.
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