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Does alcohol counseling help a DWI Case? IF so how?

Greece, NY |

I got a second dwi after a dwai not too long ago, my lawyer told me that it would help my case to go to alcohol counseling. I understand how it can help me to go to alcohol counseling, but how will it help my court case, I don't understand. Is it more likely that I would get a less harsh sentence?

Attorney Answers 8

  1. I have handled over a thousand DWI cases as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. Typically the offer for a DWI after a prior DWAI is for a plea to the charge and probation, jail, or a combination of both. I have also obtained conditional discharges (CD) for clients in your situation. It is getting increasingly difficult to resolve DWI cases in NY without harsh consequences. When I was a prosecutor, many years ago, we wouldsimply ask a defendant with a .18 BAC to perform 75 hours of cummunity service and they would get their charge reduced to a DWAI. Today, many people with a .18 BAC are looking at jail. The answer to your question is that generally a defendant who initiates counselling and treatment on their own, and who can provide a good evaluation and treatment record, is more likely to get a more lenient sentence and sometimes a better plea offer. If you end up on probation, it also greatly improves your chances of getting a conditional license sooner. Frequently, defendants with a prior DWI arrest are prohibitted by probation from driving for six months or more. If you can show probation that you started treatment on your own, and have done well, then you may get your ability to drive back much sooner. Good luck!

  2. It may help with plea bargaining.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 16 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.

  3. Yes, it can help, can't hurt, and your attorney will be happy to explain why.

    If you found this "helpful" or "best answer," please click it with my appreciation. My response is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice nor creates an attorney client relationship which requires all the details and a personal conference.

  4. Yes, getting an evaluation from a court certified therapist (known as OASAS certified in the State of New York) will absolutely help your case. Among other things, it immediately informs the court that you recognize that this arrest is no trivial matter. Good lawyers with substantial DUI/DWI experience have at least once therapist they work with on a regular basis. In the alternative, here is a website that provides a list of New York State providers: If the therapist recommends counseling and you begin it before being ordered by the court, it demonstrates initiative on your end and it will help your case.

  5. I agree with my colleagues. It may well assist you with plea bargaining. In addition, it may well assist you. Long after the case is resolved the effects of counseling might help you avoid ever being in this situation again.

    Best of luck.

    Christopher I. Simser, Sr.
    Anelli Xavier
    Syracuse - Albany - Rochester - Buffalo

  6. I agree that it can only help. Not only does it show that you are being proactive and taking an interest in your case, but it may also save you time. If you end up taking a plea, you will likely be required to do treatment as part of the plea agreement or by the DMV before you can get full driving privileges restored.

  7. I agree with my colleagues above as well. Evaluations/treatment can not only be helpful in negotiations, but also helpful personally. Further, a court can very well require someone to complete treatment as part of their sentence, while some courts go further, and make completion of treatment necessary prior to accepting a plea offer. Lastly, due to DMV regulations, completion of treatment may also be a requirement for any relicensing following the conclusion of the case. You should consult with an experienced DWI attorney on this matter.

  8. It can only help your case. It shows that you have taken initiative and responsibility. Prosecutors and judges like to see defendants who are proactive when trying to resolve their case. You are giving your lawyer an opportunity to present mitigation, which often helps in getting a better plea deal.

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