A Suffolk County DWI case requires a lawyer with knowledge of the policies of the prosecuting lawyers and Judges who handle these cases. Everyone who is arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while impaired by drugs (DWIA) in Suffolk County, New York have similar questions:
- Will I face jail time?
- What will happen to my license?
- Will I lose my car?
- Will I be forced to install an ignition interlock device?
- Will I be on probation?
- How much will this cost me.
The answers to these questions are not easy. Many factors are considered by defense counsel in order to predict an outcome. Keep in mind that every case has different facts and each defendant has a different history. The fact pattern of the case and the defendant’s criminal history or extremely important to a prediction of outcome.
Initially, when someone gets arrested and brought before a judge for a Suffolk County DWI case the judge will decide bail and often suspend the defendant’s license for the pendency of the case. This suspension often arises when the Court has a certified chemical test result alleging the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher. Also, licenses are suspended at arraignment when the Court gets a report of refusal to submit to a chemical test by the arresting office. Many judges will also suspend when there is an allegation of an accident or reckless driving.
A Suffolk County DWI case can lead to a permanent criminal record.
The defendant who has his or her license suspended for a chemical test reading at or over the legal limit is usually eligible for a hardship license from the Court. Additionally, these people are also eligible for a conditional license from the DMV within about 3 weeks. Alternatively, suspensions imposed by the Court for a refusal to submit to a chemical test are NOT eligible for a hardship or conditional license. Suspensions for accidents and reckless driving are also not eligible for a conditional or hardship license but skilled counsel can convince the judge to lift this type of suspension.
After arraignment, the main focus will be whether a plea agreement will be reached to resolve the case. For a Suffolk County DWI case, the main factors viewed by the prosecuting attorney are as follows:
- Does the client have any prior arrests and/or convictions (especially driving under the influence)?
- Was there an accident and/or allegation of reckless driving?
- Did client submit to a chemical test?
- If chemical test results exist, how high was the reading?
The answers to these factual questions, will go a long way to determining the first offer from the prosecutor. There are a number of policies now followed by The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. If there is an accident, normally no reduced plea is offered. The same is true where there is evidence of reckless driving and or a chemical test reading higher than .13 BAC. Also, a refusal to submit to a chemical test also triggers a no reduction response from the prosecutor assigned to the case. Same is true where the client has a prior driving under the influence conviction.
While these polices do often create hurdles for clients in obtaining favorable, non criminal, resolutions for their Suffolk County DWI case, a qualified Suffolk County DWI lawyer will give the best chance at success. Hurdles can be cleared, an experienced Suffolk County DWI lawyer will know the strategy giving the best chance for a positive outcome.
The most important consequences to avoid in a Suffolk County DWI case are jail time, a criminal record and probation. While jail is rare for first offenders, it becomes more likely for people with a history for driving under the influence. Again, the representation chosen has a tremendous impact on whether the outcome is favorable. An experienced, qualified and talented Suffolk County DWI lawyer is the best hope to avoid the possible negative consequences.
This entry is a very general overview of a Suffolk County DWI case for the uninitiated. If you or a loved one is arrested for driving while intoxicated or impaired, please do not hesitate to call us for more detailed information and advice.
Edward Palermo is a Suffolk County criminal and DWI lawyer with more than 20 years of experience. He has handled hundreds of driving under the influence cases and was recently named to the National Trial Lawyers Top 100.