Drug and Alcohol Screening and Evaluation in New York
Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem in New York State, and the penalties for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be severe. A DWI conviction can result in fines, jail time, and the loss of your driving privileges. However, in some cases, it may be possible to avoid these penalties through plea bargaining and drug and alcohol screening. If you have been charged with a drug or alcohol-related driving offense in New York, it is important to understand your options and to work with an experienced New York DWI lawyer who can guide you through the process. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, our team of lawyers has years of experience representing clients in DUI and DWI cases throughout New York State. We can help you understand the charges against you, negotiate with prosecutors, and develop a defense strategy tailored to your specific situation.Types of DWI Related Charges in New York
In New York, there are several different types of drug and alcohol-related driving offenses, including Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), and Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID). Each of these offenses carries its own set of penalties and consequences.
DWI is the most serious of these offenses, and it applies to drivers who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. A first-time DWI offense can result in fines, license suspension, and up to a year in jail. Repeat offenders may face even harsher penalties, including mandatory jail time and the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle.
DWAI is a less severe offense. A first-time DWAI offense can result in fines, license suspension, and up to 15 days in jail. Repeat offenders may face up to six months in jail and longer license suspensions.
DUID applies to drivers who are under the influence of drugs, whether they are legal prescription medications or illegal substances. Like DWI and DWAI, DUID is a serious offense that can result in fines, jail time, and the loss of your driving privileges.
There are several other DWI-related offenses such as underage DWI, vehicular assault, and vehicular manslaughter. Each of these involve aggravating factors that would impact how the prosecution approaches the case and sentencing.Plea Bargaining and Drug and Alcohol Screening
Plea bargaining is a common strategy used in criminal cases, including those related to DWI and drug offenses. It involves negotiations between the prosecution and defense to reach a plea agreement, which can result in reduced charges, lesser penalties, or other favorable outcomes for the defendant. In many cases, a plea bargain can be used to avoid a trial, which can be expensive, time-consuming, and uncertain.
In New York, a plea bargain may involve a requirement for drug and alcohol screening and evaluation. This is because the state has recognized that many individuals who commit DWI or drug offenses may have underlying substance abuse problems that need to be addressed in order to prevent future criminal behavior.
During the screening and evaluation process, a trained professional will assess the defendant's substance abuse history, symptoms, and other factors to determine the appropriate course of treatment. The results of this evaluation may be used to support a plea agreement that includes requirements for the defendant to undergo substance abuse treatment or counseling, attend support group meetings, or other related conditions.
In some cases, a plea agreement may also involve the defendant agreeing to participate in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program as a condition of avoiding a more serious penalty, such as jail time. This type of agreement may be beneficial for both the defendant and the prosecution, as it can help address the underlying issues that led to the criminal offense while also reducing the likelihood of future criminal behavior.
One notable case in New York involving plea bargaining and drug and alcohol screening is People v. Lopresti, 2011 NY Slip Op 50300, 2003BX003466 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Mar 01, 2011). In 2003, the defendant, Lopresti, was charged with DWI and related offenses. As part of a plea bargain, Lopresti agreed to participate in a drug and alcohol screening program, which included attending treatment and submitting to drug and alcohol testing. The court allowed Lopresti to keep his driver's license and granted him a conditional discharge, subject to his successful completion of the screening program.
In 2007, Lopresti was charged with another DWI offense. Because it was within 10 years of his prior DWI conviction, he faced a felony charge. Lopresti argued that his attorney did not advise him that if he received another DWI within 10 years, he would be faced with a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor. The court held that if defendant had been unaware that he faced a potential felony prosecution based on yet another DWI arrest at the moment he entered his guilty plea, he received actual notice of that law only moments later in the courtroom when he was given a copy of the document, which he also signed.Conditional Driving Privilege
Conditional Driving Privilege (CDP) is an option available for individuals whose driver's license has been suspended or revoked due to a DWI conviction. It allows drivers to use their car for work, school, medical, and other necessary purposes. However, CDP comes with strict conditions, and violation of any of them can lead to the immediate revocation of the privilege.
To be eligible for CDP, the convicted individual must apply to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV will evaluate the application and determine if the individual is eligible. To be eligible for CDP, the individual must complete the required drug and alcohol screening and evaluation and any treatment program recommended by the evaluation. They also need to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle, which prevents the car from starting if the driver has alcohol on their breath.
As an skilled DWI attorney in New York can explain, the consequences of violating CDP conditions can be severe, and it is essential to adhere to all the terms. Failure to comply with the conditions may result in revocation of the CDP, and the individual may be charged with a new crime. Additionally, it may also result in the imposition of further penalties, such as fines, imprisonment, or a longer suspension of the driver's license.Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If you have been charged with a drug or alcohol-related driving offense in New York, it is important to take the charges seriously and to work with an experienced DWI attorney serving New York who can help you navigate the legal system. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you understand your options and to develop a defense strategy that is tailored to your specific situation. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.