Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is extremely dangerous and illegal in New York state. The same applies to driving while intoxicated (DWI) by drugs, including drugs prescribed by doctors. If you or a loved one is charged with DUI or DWI in Staten Island, a defense attorney offers your best chance of mitigating your penalties or helping you avoid conviction. A Staten Island DWI defense lawyer can help you understand how to navigate your case.
Dealing with any form of criminal charges can be an overwhelming experience. If you are convicted, you can face time in jail, a criminal record, and significant financial impact from fines and from being unable to work. A DWI conviction can also have collateral consequences on your employment and your social life. This is an incredibly stressful situation, which is why it is important to understand your rights after a DWI arrest. An attorney can explain your options to you.
Attorney Michael Vitaliano has years of experience in the Staten Island criminal justice system, first as a prosecutor and now as a criminal defense attorney defending the rights of members of his hometown community. His years working as an Assistant District Attorney give him a unique insight into the state’s criminal law system and how state prosecutors operate. He and the team at The Vitaliano Law Firm have significant experience reviewing, investigating, and defending criminal cases in Staten Island and its communities.
At The Vitaliano Law Firm, we want to bring you effective and compassionate legal support during this difficult time in your and your family’s life. We are proud to support our clients and our community. Whether you committed the crime, made a mistake, or have been wrongfully charged, we treat you with respect. Our team is committed to fighting diligently for your rights.
If you are charged with DUI or DWI, you must realize the situation may not be as hopeless as it seems at first and that you have certain rights; you must understand these rights as you approach New York’s complex criminal justice system. It is important to have legal counsel with local experience and an understanding of the state’s complex criminal laws. Attorney Vitaliano can provide the comprehensive defense representation you need to navigate your case effectively.
You might think that if you were wrongfully accused of DWI, you can simply explain the situation and avoid conviction or that you can effectively handle your case with the assistance of a court-appointed public defender.
However, regardless of whether you think you were wrongfully accused, the police mishandled your arrest, or that you can manage with a public defender’s representation, it’s vital to know your options for defense and the value a private Staten Island DWI defense attorney can provide. Even if you were wrongfully arrested or charged, it is important not to take the charges against you lightly.
A DWI defense attorney can provide you with an effective defense, use their firm’s resources to thoroughly investigate the charges against you, and determine if your rights have been violated during the arrest or other steps in the process.
A DWI conviction can have a significant effect on your life, including immediate criminal and administrative penalties and the long-term consequences of a criminal record. By working with a skilled attorney, you provide yourself with the greatest opportunity to avoid the penalties of a DWI or mitigate the consequences.
Public defenders are court-appointed defense attorneys who represent clients who cannot afford to hire private defense attorneys or who do not wish to bear the expense of hiring private defense attorneys. While the vast majority of public defenders are accomplished and capable attorneys, they typically manage multiple cases at a time, which translates to poor flexibility and minimal individual attention for each client they represent.
Your public defender may be able to provide an acceptable defense on your behalf, but you can genuinely only expect the bare minimum from these court-appointed defense attorneys. By comparison, a private Staten Island DWI lawyer can provide a more robust level of representation than you could expect from the best public defenders.
Working with a qualified criminal defense attorney can help limit the stress you feel during a DWI case. They can help you understand the options you have for mitigating or dismissing the charges you face and give you an honest understanding of your situation. Your attorney can help build the most effective defense possible in your case.
Attorney Michael Vitaliano has years of experience as a New York prosecutor and assistant district attorney. His experience on this side of the criminal justice system means that Attorney Vitaliano will know precisely how the prosecutors handling your case will maneuver toward conviction and how to dismantle their case at the foundational level.
While many states enforce separate statutes for DUI (alcohol) and DWI (drugs), New York state applies the blanket term “DWI” to apply to all cases involving drivers who operate their vehicles while intoxicated by any substances. New York state law defines five distinct types of DWI offenses:
A conviction for any of these DWI offenses can carry significant penalties. In addition, multiple convictions within a few years will also lead to increased penalties. However, the arresting officers need to follow appropriate due process laws when conducting a traffic stop for a suspected DWI and a DWI arrest. Failure to adhere to due process could mean the prosecution has no reason to pursue conviction because the police violated the driver’s constitutional rights.
New York State upholds an implied consent law for DWI testing. This means all licensed drivers provide their implied consent to submit to chemical testing for DWI if they are lawfully arrested for DWI. After a lawful arrest, refusing to take a chemical test can result in consequences.
Unfortunately, some drivers mistakenly believe this means they must submit to preliminary alcohol screening before arrest via a breathalyzer exam or field sobriety test. Technically, a New York driver is under no obligation to submit to any preliminary alcohol screenings or field sobriety tests. However, if the driver is involved in an accident, the police may require the driver to submit to a breathalyzer test. Failure to do so could be used against the driver in a subsequent criminal case for DWI.
If the police confirm a driver is under the influence by appropriately establishing probable cause for a DWI arrest, the driver must submit to a urine, breath, saliva, or blood test following their arrest. The police must conduct this chemical test within two hours of the last time the suspect drove their vehicle.
If the driver refuses to take the chemical test after a lawful arrest, they face several penalties, including a $500 fine and a one-year driver’s license suspension for their first refusal. If they refuse and have a DWI conviction on their record within the past five years, the penalty increases to a $750 fine and an 18-month driver’s license suspension. Refusal of a chemical test will also result in more severe penalties if you are convicted of the DWI at a later date.
The sooner you contact an experienced attorney following a DWI arrest, the sooner they can address these tests and your rights. If you did or did not submit to a field sobriety test, a defense attorney can determine how that impacts your case.
In any criminal case, the state prosecution holds the burden of proof. They must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you. Your defense attorney’s goal is to introduce enough doubt or create a strong defense that prevents the prosecution from meeting this burden of proof.
Whether the DWI can be dismissed or not will rely on the skill of your attorney and the unique facets of your charges. Potential defenses, if they are relevant to your arrest, may include:
Your attorney can review your case and investigate to determine the most effective defense. Unfortunately, not all DWI cases can be dismissed. In some cases, your ideal outcome is to accept a plea deal, where you plead guilty to a lower charge, such as a DWAI. It’s important to work with an attorney who will fight for your interests and who can help you make informed decisions about your defense.
The cost of a DWI attorney depends on several factors, including the specific attorney you hire and your unique situation. A more complicated DWI case, such as one where there was an accident or an aggravated DWI charge, will likely result in more expensive attorney fees. This is because an attorney is more likely to charge an hourly rate for defense services, and this cost will add up over the process of your case. A simple DWI or DWAI charge may be charged as a flat fee.
The firm’s policies and the attorney’s experience also impact the fees of criminal defense. A more experienced and successful attorney is likely to charge a higher rate. This does not automatically mean that an expensive attorney has the most experience, however. It is important to look at their past cases, their education, and how successful they are with DWI cases specifically.
An experienced attorney who charges a higher rate can be daunting, but they may be more likely to secure a positive outcome for the case and more quickly than a less experienced attorney. In the end, this may mean you pay less in attorney fees because the case was finalized more quickly.
The firm’s location and unique policies also impact the cost. When you face criminal charges in Staten Island and other communities in New York City, you’ll want an attorney who understands the legal charges and requirements in those areas. Attorneys in highly populated areas tend to have higher rates than most other attorneys.
When discussing your case with a potential attorney, be sure you understand their fee structure and billing policies before you begin working with them for defense.
If you are arrested for DWI in Staten Island, a DWI defense attorney can provide your best chance of avoiding conviction or at least minimizing your penalties. Depending on how the police conducted your arrest and the other evidence in play, an experienced defense attorney could help you avoid the substantial penalties that DWI conviction carries in New York.
If you are ready to discuss your options for defense with a reliable Staten Island DWI defense lawyer, contact Attorney Michael Vitaliano today and schedule your free consultation.