In order to reduce the risks associated with intoxicated drivers, New York has implemented severe penalties for those charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses. Repeat offenders, especially, face harsh consequences, even if no one was hurt as a result of the alleged drunk driving. The higher your blood alcohol content (BAC), the stiffer the potential penalties for driving. A third offense in a ten-year period, even with a low BAC, could result in up to seven years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines and the loss of your license for a full year after incarceration.
Even first-time offenders, who could avoid jail time, face loss of their license for between six months and year, depending on their BAC. When you’re facing a DWI charge, your first instinct may be to either talk with law enforcement to explain your situation or simply plead guilty to get over with the process. Talking to law enforcement without an attorney is almost always a mistake. You could be providing a statement that is later used to convict you. Similarly, pleading guilty could result in serious consequences. Judges aren’t always lenient at sentencing just because you plead guilty.
There are social consequences for DWI offenses, too
Even if you avoid jail time, a conviction or guilty plea to a DWI charge could cause a host of issues. Depending on your line of work, your employer may have a strict no-convictions policy. Even if your DWI charge is a misdemeanor and not a felony, your employer could terminate your employment due to a conviction or guilty plea. Finding a new job or even moving to a new apartment could become more difficult with a criminal record.
Even if your employer doesn’t have a strict policy about criminal records, a DWI could still make you lose your job. If you avoid incarceration or your employer allows you to take time off while you are in jail, you still won’t have reliable transportation to get to and from work. Depending on taxis, ride-sharing services and public transportation may result in arriving late for work frequently. Chronic absenteeism or tardiness is likely to impact your ability to keep a job and grow your career.
Other people may treat you differently after a DWI charge as well. Unless you beat the charge, your record could impact socialization. People may hesitate to invite you to events where alcohol will be served. Co-workers and friends may be less likely to ride in your vehicle. The social stigma can be frustrating and dehumanizing. Your best option is to fight back against a DWI charge by working with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can explore options for your defense and will help you push for the best possible outcome when you’re charged with a DWI.