DWI arrest: Arraignment, bail, license suspension, conditional licenses, plea offers and trials.
If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged with DWI, you need the guidance and counsel of someone with experience and knowledge to protect your interests and obtain the best result. I have over 20 years of handling DWI cases on Long Island and elsewhere, and I have won over 60 DWI trials.
Arrest and Arraignment on DWI chargesMost of my DWI clients are otherwise law abiding citizens with little or no experience with the criminal justice system. Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable DWI attorney as soon as possible can be vital to favorable result. I receive calls at 3:00 a.m. from people who have been arrested and charged with DWI and need answers to questions as they are being processed. It is common for me to be retained by family members immediately, and I then call the Police Department and speak with the arrested driver. The first thing I do is put the police on Notice that I represent the person charged with DWI and require that the Police not question my client outside my presence. This is important, because many people who have no experience with the criminal justice system feel obligated to cooperate with the police and answer questions. Answering police questions can feel like the right, moral or ethical thing to do at the time. However, legally it can put you in great jeopardy. When you are represented by a lawyer who promptly puts the police on Notice of your representation, the questioning stops. Importantly, if the police do obtain admissions or statements against your interest after your lawyer has put the police on Notice, then the statements are subject to suppression and may not be admissible against you.
Arraignment: Suffolk and Nassau County Police Department DWI arrests are almost always held overnight and brought before a judge the next morning for arraignment. Suffolk and Nassau County District Court's are open for arraignments 365 days a year. It is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced DWI attorney appear with you or your loved one at the arraignment. The benefits I provide to my clients when I appear at a DWI arraignment include the following: getting your case called earlier, so that you do not spend additional unnecessary time in custody; getting you Released on your Own Recognizance (ROR) or get bail lower than it typically is without an experienced local attorney; getting you a prompt hearing for a Hardship License so that you can drive to and from work; and review the formal charges and reserving and protecting any rights you have.
Hardship and Conditional LicensesHardship License: Most drivers have their Driver's License or privilege to drive suspended at the time of their arraignment on a DWI charge. Occasionally, I have successfully argued that someone's license should not be suspended at that time. For those who submit to chemical tests, including breath tests at the police precinct, I arrange for a prompt Hardship Hearing where I can typically get my clients the ability to drive to and from work. There are specific rules and a detailed procedure as to how to successfully make such an application. I have been successful in obtaining Hardship Driving Privileges for most of my DWI clients.
Conditional License: If your license is suspended at arraignment, you are typically eligible to obtain a Conditional License from the Department of Motor Vehicles, 30 days after your arraignment. This Conditional License provides more freedom and is more flexible that a Hardship License.
Refusal of Chemical or Breath tests: Driver's who refuse chemical or breath tests after a DWI arrest are not immediately eligible for a Hardship or Conditional License. However, you are entitled to a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles within 15 days of your arraignment. I cannot stress enough how vitally important it is to have an experienced and knowledgeable DWI attorney representing you at this hearing. These hearings have very specific requirements. Losing this hearing will result in your license being revoked for one year. If we lose a hearing and have grounds for an appeal, I immediately file for an appeal, which typically results in restoration of my client's driving privileges while the appeal is pending. This is not something that attorneys who do not have experience with DWI cases will know how to properly handle. Many attorneys who do handle DWI cases also may not know how to successfully file and argue an appeal and get your driving privilege back.
Plea Offers and TrialsI have won over 60 DWI trials and have lost only one. I generally look to do two things when hired to represent my clients with a DWI charge. One, prepare the case for trial. Two, work to get the best possible plea bargain offer. As an attorney who has successfully tried many DWI cases, the prosecutors I meet with know that they have a formidable opponent if they take the case to trial. The vast majority of DWI cases do resolve with plea bargains. Prior to speaking to the prosecution, I obtain Discovery and I review the materials to find any and all flaws in the prosecution case. I also ask many of my clients to provide Good Character Letters from people who know them and who can attest to their good character. Lastly, I refer many of my clients to obtain a substance abuse evaluation. I approach the prosecutors with an argument that focuses on the flaws in their case, and also an argument that you, my client is an upstanding member of our community and deserves the benefit of the doubt. A common way to resolve a DWI case is to persuade the prosecution to reduce the charge from the crime of Driving While Intoxicated, which is a misdemeanor crime, down the traffic infraction of Driving While Impaired, which is not a crime and not a misdemeanor.