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New York DUI Law Blog

Researchers believe lowering the drinking age might avoid crashes

Even though the legal drinking age is not determined by the federal government, there is one, uniform drinking age across the country: 21. This has not always been the drinking age and there were times when the drinking age changed by state. So, what happened? The federal government tied a significant enough portion of a state's highway funds to the state adopting the unified (and often higher) legal drinking age of 21. The drinking age has not changed in the past 30 years.

The thought was that if all the states had a legal drinking age of 21 that there would be fewer drunk driving accidents. While a uniform drinking age may go far to reduce the number of young people driving across state lines to drink or purchase alcohol, there are some people within the motor vehicle safety field who believe a lowered drinking age could actually help drunk driving crashes.

What is the difference between suspension and revocation?

Many people in Staten Island are aware that if they are convicted of driving while intoxicated that their licenses could be suspended or revoked, but what does that really mean? Is there a difference and, if so, what is it?

According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, there is a difference, and understanding that difference may make it much easier for someone to reinstate his or her license following a suspension or revocation.

New York State Police to participate statewide July 4 crackdown

It is that time of year again: police will be out in droves starting tonight to enforce a statewide crackdown this holiday weekend. July 4 is supposed to be a time to celebrate independence and, at the very least, have a day off to enjoy with family and friends. There are many people in Queens who will likely have a drink or two, but they will need to be very careful before they get behind the wheel as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recently announced that police will be stepping up their drunk driving enforcement.

As part of this enforcement, there will be sobriety checkpoints and extra drunk driving patrols. This can be particularly frustrating for drivers who have had something to drink but are not legally intoxicated. If there is even the slightest scent of alcohol on a driver's breath, police may force the driver off the road and administer field sobriety tests.

Vince's Law could mean more felony DWIs

There is certainly a difference between being charged with a misdemeanor and a felony. Even if the punishments are relatively similar, anyone who does a background check on you and discovers you have a felony record as opposed to a misdemeanor record may be far more reluctant to hire you, allow you to rent from them or even to interact with you. Sadly, a felony conviction can be quite isolating, even after your state-ordered punishment is over.

While New York state law has long allowed for prosecutors to charge individuals with prior driving while intoxicated convictions with a felony DWI, a bill that is making its way to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk could make it even easier to do so. Named after an 82-year-old from Onondaga County, Vince's Law has recently been passed by the New York State Senate after previously being passed by the State Assembly. All that is required for it to become a law is a signature by the governor.

Staten Island man could face up to 7 years in prison for DWI

It is shocking to think that a young man could possibly spend seven years in prison for driving while intoxicated, but a 22-year-old from Grant City is in serious trouble after he was convicted of DWI and second-degree assault. While this is a unique situation in that the young man apparently was not easily taken into custody, it is not entirely surprising that a then-20-year-old with a blood alcohol level of 0.128 percent might not make the best decisions when confronted by police. That doesn't mean, however, that he should spend seven years of his life in prison.

If you are under 21 and have even the smallest amount of alcohol in your system while driving, the New York Police Department can arrest you and have you charged with underage DWI. Unlike the normal 0.08 cutoff, if you are under the legal drinking age, you could get in trouble with far less alcohol in your system. In addition to developing a criminal record, you might also lose your driver's license.

NY lawmakers pass bill to increase penalties for third DWI

New York's drunk driving laws are extremely strict. Generally, across the country, if a breath or blood test indicates that an adult's blood alcohol content is .08 percent or higher, then the driver may be charged with DWI. However, in New York, an adult can also be arrested if a test indicates a blood alcohol content as low as .05 percent. The charge in such a case would be driving while ability impaired, or DWAI.

A DWI charge can also carry a felony status if someone was hurt or killed in a car accident that allegedly involved alcohol. If you have a prior DWI conviction, or if your blood alcohol content was shown to be .18 percent or higher, then the possible penalties also increase.

Celebrities are often treated differently when charged with DWI

There are a considerable number of celebrities living in New York City, many of whom drive. Though many of these celebrities will have someone else driving them if they are drinking, some choose to get behind the wheel themselves. Many of us have read stories about celebrities being pulled over for driving while intoxicated or for causing an accident while drinking and driving, but it is important to note that celebrities are often treated much differently than your run-of-the-mill New Yorkers when arrested and charged with DWI. While justice is supposed to be blind, stars somehow manage to get away with a lot more than most New Yorkers.

Sometimes it is just that a star will use a competent criminal defense lawyer to get their charges lowered or thrown out, while many others will try to handle a DWI charge on their own. Whether individuals don't quite grasp the seriousness of a drunk driving conviction or they think it is relatively easy to defend themselves, not working with a lawyer is taking a huge risk.

The havoc of a suspended driver's license

While many of us in New York City don't have cars, those that do often have them for very important reasons. Generally, either their work is inaccessible by bus or train or they need their vehicle for work. Regardless of why, when someone is convicted of driving while intoxicated and faces a suspended driver's license, it can cause significant problems.

One out-of-state man has learned that the hard way after police were curious as to why he was sleeping in his car. The man believed that he was completely fine to be driving, based on his large stature and just the fact that he knew what it would take to get him drunk. He chose to nap for a few hours at a tourist area just as a precaution, which is where police found him.

The future of drunk driving stops

Most people in Staten Island know that in order for the police to pull them over, officers need to observe them doing something that gives rise to suspicion that something illegal is happening. Police cannot, for example, pull over a driver who is driving the speed limit, staying in his or her lane, using turn signals and otherwise obeying all of the traffic laws. At least that was the rule until the Supreme Court of the United States recently decided a case.

The case was about a man who was suspected of driving while intoxicated, albeit not in New York. The reason why he was suspected of drunk driving was because a woman called 911 to complain that he had run her off of the road. Police used that anonymous tip to then stop the man's vehicle in order to check if he was intoxicated.

Queens man charged with murder in fatal DWI crash

When someone is charged with a crime, there needs to be evidence that he or she committed the acts of the crime. Police cannot, for example, just arrest someone and have prosecutors ask for an indictment without some kind of proof that the person not only committed a crime, but the crime for which he or she is charged. Without sufficient evidence, the person cannot be charged or charges will be dropped. This applies to driving while intoxicated just as it does with any other crime.

So, how then can a 33-year-old man from Queens be facing a murder charge in what many consider to be a drug-related DWI? Though we are not confirming that he should be convicted of a DWI, there are reports that last June he jumped the curb at Fourth Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan, striking three people, one of whom later died, all while high. Charging the man with murder, however, seems to be a bit of a stretch.