Staten Island DWI Defense Lawyer

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Staten Island DWI Defense Lawyer

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Defense Representation for Staten Island Drivers Charged With DUI and DWI

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.

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. 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. Attorney Vitaliano can provide the comprehensive defense representation you need to navigate your case effectively.

Why Hire a Staten Island DWI Defense Attorney?

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.

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. 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.

Understanding DUI/DWI Conviction

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:

  1. DWI applies when a driver operates a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. The BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04%. A conviction for DWI for the first time will lead to fines up to $1,000, a mandatory six-month driver’s license revocation, and up to one year in jail.
  2. Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) with alcohol applies when the driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle has been diminished by “any extent.” The penalties for conviction of alcohol-DWAI can include fines up to $500, up to 15 days in jail, and a 90-day driver’s license suspension.
  3. Drug-DWAI applies when a driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle is diminished by “any extent” due to consumption of drugs, including those legal for the driver to possess and consume with a doctor’s prescription. The penalties for drug-DWAI can include fines up to $1,000, a six-month or longer driver’s license revocation, and up to one year in jail.
  4. Combination-DWAI applies when a driver’s ability to safely manage their vehicle is impaired by “any extent” due to a combination of drug and alcohol consumption. The penalties for this offense include fines up to $1,000, a minimum six-month driver’s license revocation, and up to one year in jail.
  5. Aggravated DWI applies to drivers with BAC over .18% or higher or driving while intoxicated while carrying a passenger who is 15 years old or younger. Penalties for aggravated DWI in New York can include fines from $1,000 to $2,500, up to one year in jail, and driver’s license revocation for at least one year.

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 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.

DWI Testing Requirements in New York

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. 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 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.

Find Your Defense Counsel Today

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.

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