Everyone knows that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense. On the other hand, when it comes to operating a boat, people tend not to worry nearly as much about the potential for impairment. However, the state of New York treats these two offenses the same. If you were arrested for boating while intoxicated (BWI), a BWI lawyer in Albany can help.
At DWI Tom, we are committed to ensuring that our clients get the fair treatment to which they are entitled. If you were arrested on a BWI charge, we will make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities and build a strong defense on your behalf. Contact us today by phone or through our website to get a free consultation from an experienced Albany DWI attorney.
Penalties for BWI in Albany
After being arrested for BWI, it is critical that you understand the potential penalties you could face if convicted. Prior to 2006, BWI charges were treated as lesser offenses than driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. However, legislation passed that year increased the penalties for a BWI conviction, making them equal to the consequences of a DWI.
The punishment you will face if convicted of BWI in Albany will depend on whether or not you have any prior BWI or DWI convictions.
A first-offense BWI charge is treated as a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face a fine of $500 to $1,000 and be sentenced to up to one year in jail. Additionally, your operator privilege will be suspended for 12 months.
If you have been a prior BWI conviction within the last 10 years, the penalties for a second offense will increase. A second-offense BWI is prosecuted as a Class E felony. The penalties for a conviction include $1,000 to $5,000 in fines and a prison sentence of up to four years. Additionally, your operator privilege will be suspended for 24 months.
If you have two prior BWI convictions on your record within the past 10 years, a third offense will be prosecuted as a Class D felony. The penalties for a third conviction include $2,000 to $10,000 in fines and a prison sentence of up to seven years. Additionally, you will once again face a 24-month suspension of your operator privilege.
Prior DWI Convictions
It is important to understand that when determining prior offenses for penalties, in addition to BWI offenses, DWI convictions will also be counted for the criminal consequences of fines and incarceration. However, DWIs will not be taken into account when it comes to the suspension of your operator privilege.
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Plea Bargaining in a BWI Case
The ideal outcome of a BWI case for the defendant is always going to be to beat the charge and avoid a conviction. Unfortunately, this outcome is not always possible. If the evidence against you is strong, your best option may be to negotiate a favorable plea deal. An experienced BWI defense attorney serving Albany can help you negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution.
Many factors will determine the willingness of the prosecutor to agree to a plea bargain and the leniency they are likely to show. Fortunately, the court system is overworked, and prosecutors are often eager to resolve a case quickly as long as they can chalk it up as a win. An experienced lawyer can help assess the best terms to which the prosecutor is likely to agree.
Depending on the terms of the agreement, a plea bargain could have various benefits. The prosecution could agree to drop the more serious charge of BWI if you plead guilty to a lesser charge. Doing so can mean vastly reduced penalties, especially if you have prior convictions. Alternatively, you could plead guilty to BWI in exchange for receiving the minimum penalties.
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Common Defenses in BWI Cases
Depending on the details of your case, there are a wide variety of defenses that your attorney could potentially use in your case. Your Albany BWI lawyer will evaluate the specific circumstances surrounding your arrest and processing to determine the best approach to take.
Inaccurate Chemical Testing
Chemical testing is notoriously faulty. These tests have been proven time and again to produce inaccurate results that don’t hold up under close scrutiny. Faulty equipment and human error are common during chemical testing.
An experienced BWI lawyer can show countless examples of false testing to make the jury doubt the accuracy of your test results. Furthermore, they may even be able to present evidence that proves that errors occurred in your test.
You Were Not Operating the Boat
In order to be guilty of BWI, you must have been the one operating the boat. Unlike in a car where everyone is seated the whole trip and the person who is driving is more evident, people tend to move around in a boat. You could be misidentified as the party that was driving in a variety of ways.
If the police arrive at the scene while the boat is not in motion and nobody is behind the wheel, it can be challenging to identify who was operating the watercraft.
Your Rights Were Violated
During an arrest and while you are being processed, you have a variety of rights that the police must respect. If your lawyer can show that your rights were violated, the consequences can vary drastically. In some cases, the evidence against you will be dismissed, and the charges dropped.
Get a Free Consultation from an Experienced BWI Lawyer in Albany Today
After being arrested on a BWI charge, it is critical that you take measures to protect yourself. One of the best ways to do this is by hiring an experienced BWI lawyer to represent you. Your attorney will be present when you speak with the police and will guide you through every step of the process as they build your defense.
At DWI Tom, we have a long history of helping those facing BWI charges fight back against a conviction. Contact us today by giving us a call, using our chat tool, or completing our online contact form and schedule a free initial case evaluation with a member of our BWI defense team.