The DWI laws in Astoria are enforced strictly, even against first-time offenders. These laws prohibit driving a car while under the influence of alcohol, while under the influence of cannabis, and they also prohibit people from taking certain medications while behind the wheel. Additionally, these rules apply to the operation of non-motorized vehicles.
As a former prosecutor, Astoria DWI lawyer Mike Schillinger understands what evidence the District Attorney will need to secure a DWI conviction against you. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, he can evaluate the evidence in your case to find key weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, helping you to fight against these serious charges.
What is a DWI?
According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192, it’s against the law for anyone to drive or operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A prosecutor can prove that a driver was intoxicated by showing that he or she had a blood alcohol content of .08% or more. The second way to prove impairment is through a police officer’s observations of the driver, if they demonstrated the common law signs of intoxication. Some of these can include bloodshot eyes, watery eyes, difficulty balancing in their feet, slurred words, etc.
If their blood alcohol content is not .08% or greater, the driver may instead be charged with a lesser violation of VTL § 1192.1. Known as Driving While Ability Impaired, or DWAI, this section of the VTL applies to situations where a person cannot control a vehicle due to their ability to drive being simply impaired by the consumption of alcohol, rather than actually being intoxicated.
In the event that someone’s ability to drive has been impaired due to the consumption of drugs, they can also be charged under VTL § 1192.4 – Driving while ability impaired by drugs. This can include the usage of Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, and some medications.
Oftentimes people find themselves being arrested even when they were not actively driving the vehicle at the time the of arrest. Simply being behind the wheel when the vehicle is on, while drunk or high, can result in DWI charges being brought against you. The DWI laws also cover the operation of other vehicles like bicycles or skateboards. Mike Schillinger is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Astoria and can explain the various sections of the DWI law in New York State during a private consultation.
Potential Defense Strategies in Court
DWI cases come with harsh penalties, and can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the circumstances. Even a first conviction for DWI can carry a jail sentence of up to 12 months. Furthermore, a convicted offender must pay a fine of at least $500 along with significant administrative fees. Depending on the final resolution, this may also include serious consequences to your ability to drive, including revocation of your driver’s license.
DWAI’s on the other hand are classified as traffic violations, and carry lesser penalties than a DWI. With a DWAI, the license suspension is typically only for 90 days, the fines are significantly lower, and a court may only sentence a person to up to 15 days in jail if incarceration is appropriate.
Still, these penalties can be avoided if an individual can avoid a conviction. If you’ve been charged with a DWI, you should know that there are still options that may be available to you. One option may be to pursue a diversion program. These programs allow defendants to attend alcohol education classes and perform community service in lieu of traditional sentences like jail-time and probation. Oftentimes completing these programs will lead to a reduced charge, and sometimes it can even lead to a dismissal. A knowledgeable lawyer can help determine if this or another option is available to help resolve your case.
For others, contesting the case during a trial may be best. For example, as an experienced DWI lawyer in Astoria, Mike Schillinger knows to question the accuracy of breath and blood tests, and how to cross-examine a police officer whose observations led to a DWI arrest. These tactics may help in avoiding a conviction, as well as the harsh penalties that can follow.
Let a DWI Attorney in Astoria Take the Lead
Facing an arrest for DWI can be an intimidating and frightening experience. At a minimum, you may lose your license for the duration of the case. In addition, a conviction can bring a jail sentence, fines, probation, and a lengthy license suspension.
Fortunately, hiring an Astoria DWI lawyer may help you to avoid this outcome. Mike Schillinger will work with you to understand your case and identify realistic goals. Additionally, he can negotiate with the prosecutor and the Court, and attempt to persuade them to allow you to enter a diversion program at the plea bargaining stage. And if that doesn’t work, Mike is ready to develop defenses for you to use at trial, and to fight back against the charges against you. Reach out today to learn more.