The Buffalo DWI Attorneys at John M. Dudziak PC focuses their core legal practice on DWI, DWAI, and other drunk driving offenses. His cases include first time DWI / DWAI offenses, Multiple DWI infractions, as well as accidents caused by drunk driving. As one of the leading law firms in New York, the Law Office of John M. Dudziak has represented countless clients throughout Buffalo and the Western New York region.
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Our Buffalo Law Office is not a high volume practice, we are result oriented. We intentionally limit the number of client cases handled at any single time in order to devote ample time to each case, and each client’s specific needs. We recognize that superior results are achieved by not only knowing the current trends in the law but more importantly, intimately knowing the local court system and the individuals on the other side.
New York DWI – What You Need to Know
In New York, DWI means driving while intoxicated. An intoxicant is either drugs or alcohol. If you’re charged with a DWI in New York, you are facing a serious allegation even if it’s your first offense. Here’s what you need to know about DWI in New York.
Types of DWI in New York
There are five categories for DWI in New York.
A DWI requires that you have a blood alcohol content that is above the legal limit of .08% or higher for private vehicles and .04% or higher for commercial vehicles. For New York drivers, a DWI can be charged if you are impaired to a “substantial extent.”
An aggravated DWI is charged against New York drivers if their blood alcohol content is .18% or higher of if you are driving drunk with a passenger who is 15 years old or younger.
Alcohol DWAI means that you are charged with DWI because of alcohol and you do not have the “reasonable and prudent” ability to control a vehicle.
If you are charged with a Drug DWAI, it means that you have drugs in your system that take away your “reasonable and prudent ability to control a vehicle
A combination DWAI means that your ability to drive in a “reasonable and prudent” way is impaired by “any extent.” DWAI is considered a secondary offense. The difference between a DWAI and DWI is the amount of impairment.
Blood Alcohol Content
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the percentage of alcohol that is present in the blood stream of the driver. In New York, there are different blood alcohol content limits associated with DWI. For New York drivers over the age of 21, the legal limit is .08% for private vehicles. If you drive a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is .04%. For drivers under the age of 21, the limit is .02
There’s no perfect way to say exactly how many drinks it would take you to reach the legal limit. Our bodies process alcohol differently. There are BAC charts available online that are based on the weight of a person. The charts are not a guarantee. You should always err on the side of caution and drink less to avoid a DWI.
These tests enable the officer to formulate an opinion as to whether or not you are intoxicated. Under New York state law, an officer is allowed to make this determination without administering either of the other two tests. The officer can also charge you with DWI if they observe certain tell-tale signs of intoxication. These might include an unsteady walk, flushed cheeks, bloodshot and watery eyes, smelling like alcohol, and so on.
The second type of field sobriety test in New York is a breath test. In a breath test, the officer requests that you blow into a machine for a certain length of time. The machine will analyze the air coming out of your lungs to determine whether or not you are intoxicated at or past the legal limit.
The third type of field sobriety test in New York is a chemical test. The blood, urine, or other bodily fluids are taken and tested to determine your BAC. This test usually takes place at the police department or at a hospital.
What Happens If You Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test?
If you refuse to take a field sobriety test, you will face immediate consequences. Under the law, your driver’s license creates the duty for you to follow the laws related to operating a motor vehicle. The immediate consequences are not criminal in nature, but they will still drastically affect your life. The refusal may be used against you in court. Your driver’s license will also be suspended even if it is a first offense.
A DWI can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Usually, first time DWI charges in New York are misdemeanors. Yet, if you’ve had a previous DWI, even if it was ten years ago, you could still face felony charges.
DWIs have a risk of jail time. For first time offenders, there is no minimum amount of jail time that you must serve. You could still be sentenced to jail time, but there is no minimum amount. Second DWI offenses in New York have a minimum of five days in jail or 30 days of community service. Third DWI offenses in New York have a minimum of ten days in jail or 60 days of community service.
DWIs also come with expensive fines. First time offenses will include fines between $500 and $1,000. Second time offenses will include fines between $500 and $5,000. Third time offenses will include fines between $500 and $10,000.
You could also lose your driver’s license even if it is your first DWI in New York. First time DWI charges result in a minimum of a six month suspension. Second time DWI charges come with a minimum of a one year suspension. Third offenses mean you will lose your license for a minimum of six years.
Regardless of whether it is your first offense, you’ll also be required to have an ignition interlock device in your car for a specified period of time.
Our Buffalo DWI Attorneys Answer Your Frequently Asked Questions
What is a DWI?
- A DWI occurs when an individual is charged with driving while having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) are slightly less severe offenses. Individuals are charged with DWAIs when their BAC is between 0.05% and 0.07%.
What is an aggravated DWI?
- Aggravated DWI is a relatively new law in New York State. It pertains to drinking and driving. This law pertains to individuals who score, for lack of a better term, a 0.18 or higher on the breath machine. The importance of this law is that it’s a misdemeanor. The penalties are stiffer: a fine ranging from $1,000 to $2500, with a potential one-year jail term and a license revocation of one year.
What is the difference between DWI and DWAI?
- A DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is an unclassified misdemeanor punishable up to one year in local jail. A DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) is a violation punishable up to fifteen days in jail.
What happens if you refuse to take a field sobriety test?
- If you refuse to take a field sobriety test, you will face immediate consequences. Under the law, your driver’s license creates the duty for you to follow the laws related to operating a motor vehicle. The immediate consequences are not criminal in nature, but they will still drastically affect your life. The refusal may be used against you in court. Your driver’s license will also be suspended, even if it is a first offense.
Will I go to jail for a DWI?
- If you’re charged and convicted with DWI, there are several factors that a sentencing judge will consider when determining your sentence. One of those things that a sentencing judge may do is to put an individual in jail. It depends entirely on your previous record. Your attorney could certainly conduct a sentencing memorandum with the sentencing judge, where they will sit down together, and put together a biography of who the client is, and why they should not go to jail. Your attorney might base this on the many good and positive things that you have done in an effort to lead a good, law abiding life, and demonstrate that this was an out-of-character experience. Then, hopefully, you will stay out of jail.
Will I lose my license?
- That depends. This is an extremely complicated area in DWI law. There are several factors that come into play, and these factors vary from individual to individual, from case to case. Only your Buffalo DWI Attorneys will be able to educate and instruct you.
What are the penalties for a DWI conviction?
- If you’re charged with DWI or DWAI in New York State, there are certain things that are going to happen to you, potentially criminally and civilly. Criminally, depending on whether you’re charged with DWI or DWAI, you could end up in jail for a maximum period of one year if it’s a misdemeanor, up to several years if it’s a felony and potentially 90 days if it’s a misdemeanor or violation. In addition to that, you could end up on probation or end up with significant fines.As far as your license is concerned, an arraignment, which is your first appearance in court after being charged by the police, you may or may not lose your license depending on what the judge does. He shall, according to the law, suspend your license pending prosecution. However, there is something called a hardship license that the judge may, at his discretion, be able to issue a driver charged if the judge can find extreme hardship that that person would be under after a hearing. Certainly, you should start reviewing Buffalo DWI Attorneys to run any of those hearings and address those matters with the court.Subsequently, depending on which way your case goes, either conclusion by way of plea bargain or trial, after that, the DMV steps in and determines whether or not you’re going to get a conditional license and what courses you’re going to have to take, whether it be a drinking/driving program, which is a seven-week course, or any other assessments that the vehicle and traffic law requires you to get by a New York State certified counselor to determine if you have an alcohol or drug abuse problem.
How long does a DWI stay on my record?
- If you have been convicted of a DWI in the form of a misdemeanor or a violation, it will stay on your record permanently. Several people assume incorrectly that after a 10-year period, the conviction automatically falls off their criminal history report. It does not. It is not the same as a speeding violation or a stop sign violation, where after 48 months, the DMV takes those points off. A crime and a conviction for driving while intoxicated will always be on your record.
Can I Go to Canada with a DWI?
If you’re charged with a DWI or driving while impaired, it’s very important that you contact an attorney or advise your current attorney that you have business in Canada or a foreign country. Canada has been known to bar a US citizen who’s been convicted of a misdemeanor DWI, or in certain circumstances, driving while impaired, which is a violation. Sometimes they don’t make that distinction.
In addition, if you want to enter Canada, where a lot of clients of mine have cottages, or they have business in Canada or their kids play hockey, you have to apply for a Minister’s Permit with the Canadian Consulate. That is a very, very narrow niche, and a very, very particular are of the law that you need to research thoroughly in order to get the right answers.
In addition, a DWI conviction could affect you from entering or traveling to or from other countries, which you certainly should research prior to planning any trips out of the country.
Buffalo DWI Attorneys Fighting For Your Full Defense
If you’re facing a DWI charge in New York, you need experienced legal representation. Call the Law Office of John M. Dudziak at (716) 249-6400 now to schedule your free consultation.