Typically, when you are charged with a DWI in New York, it will be tried as a misdemeanor charge. However, if the facts of your case warrant it, a prosecutor may upgrade your charge to a felony. This may result in enhanced penalties such as extended jail or prison time or the temporary or permanent loss of driving privileges. You may also face enhanced financial penalties if convicted of the charge.
Why an upgrade may occur
You may be charged with felony DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was extremely high. The legal limit in the state is .08%, and generally speaking, anything above .15% will be considered to be extremely high. At this point, you have limited control over your thoughts and actions, which can significantly increase your risk of getting into an accident. Your case may also be treated as a felony if you drove drunk while a child was in your car or if you caused extensive property damage.
First-time offenders can be charged with a felony
Even if you don’t have a prior record of drunk or impaired driving, you could still be charged with a felony DWI. However, as a first-time offender, you may have a greater chance of pleading the case down to a misdemeanor. Furthermore, you may also be afforded the opportunity to go to rehab. If you complete a rehab program successfully, the charge against you may be dropped.
Don’t forget about implied consent
Refusing to take a chemical test may result in a driver’s license suspension, a fine and other penalties. These penalties may be enforced even if you are cleared of the DWI charge. Furthermore, the fact that you refused to take a blood or Breathalyzer test can be used as evidence in your drunk driving case.
Casting doubt on the results of a chemical test might make it possible to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. Additionally, challenging the legitimacy of the traffic stop that led to a criminal charge may also help you obtain an acquittal or plea deal.