A DWI is one of the most common criminal charges a driver can face. You may know someone or even several people who have gone through this unpleasant and embarrassing experience. That doesn't mean it is one you can brush off as inconsequential, though. A drunk driving conviction, even for a first offense, can bring you a lifetime of complications, including financial struggles, professional setbacks and personal frustrations.
As severe as DWI penalties are currently, lawmakers and safety advocates are always striving to keep drunk drivers off the streets, and this includes adding tougher penalties to deter people from getting behind the wheel after drinking. However, as tough as the consequences of a DWI conviction can be, there are some factors that can intensify your penalties even more.
What factors can increase DWI penalties?
Of course, if this is not your first DWI, you can already expect harsher penalties if a court convicts you. While the lookback time is different in every state, in New York, a DWI conviction within the last 10 years can result in enhanced penalties, including mandatory jail, higher fines, longer license suspension and additional requirements. In addition to repeat offenses, other factors that may result in enhanced penalties include the following:
- You have a child in the vehicle while driving impaired.
- Your blood alcohol concentration is significantly higher than .08.
- You are driving without a valid license or while your license is under suspension.
- You are driving impaired while you have an ignition interlock system on your vehicle.
- You have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle.
- You refuse to submit to a breath or blood test to measure your BAC.
If you are impaired when you are involved in an accident, you may face more than enhanced DWI penalties. An accident that results in property damage, physical injury to someone else in your vehicle or in the other vehicle, or the death of someone may lead to serious felony charges. This can be a terrifying and confusing experience, and you should not try to deal with these issues on your own.
Reaching out for legal counsel is your right, and you would be wise to take advantage of it. An attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you achieve the most positive outcome possible, considering the circumstances.