Everyone knows that driving while intoxicated (DWI) is dangerous and is treated as a serious criminal offense by the state of New York. However, most people don’t think nearly as much about boating while intoxicated (BWI). In New York, a BWI charge is treated just as seriously as a DWI. If arrested on a charge, hiring a BWI lawyer in Binghamton can be critical.
At DWI Tom, our team of experienced attorneys has a long track record of helping our clients secure favorable outcomes when faced with BWI charges. We know the challenges a conviction can pose and will work tirelessly to help you win your case. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with a Binghamton DWI lawyer.
Penalties for a BWI Conviction in Binghamton
If you are facing a BWI charge, you need to understand the potential penalties if you are convicted. In New York, the consequences of a BWI charge will vary significantly depending on whether you have any prior BWI convictions on your record.
Penalties for a First-Offense BWI
In the state of New York, a first-offense BWI charge is treated as a misdemeanor. If convicted, you will face up to one year in jail, along with fines ranging from $500 to $1,000. Additionally, your boat operator privilege will be suspended for one year.
Penalties for a Second-Offense BWI
If you are charged with a BWI and have a prior conviction on your record in the past 10 years, this offense will be prosecuted as a Class E felony in New York. If convicted, you will face up to four years in prison, in addition to fines from $1,000 to $5,000. Furthermore, your boat operator privilege will be revoked for two years.
Penalties for a Third-Offense BWI
If you have two previous BWI convictions on your record, the penalties for a third offense will once again increase significantly. A third-offense BWI is treated as a Class D felony in New York, and a conviction will mean a prison term of up to seven years, as well as fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.
In addition, your boat operator privilege will once again be revoked for two years.
DWIs Count as Prior Offenses When Assessing Legal Penalties
If you have any DWI convictions on your record within the past 10 years, these will also count as prior offenses when determining the penalties you will face. However, a prior DWI charge will not be considered when it comes to the suspension of your boat operator privilege.
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Plea Bargaining in BWI Cases
If you have been charged with BWI, the ideal outcome will be to avoid a conviction. Unfortunately, this result is not always possible. When the evidence against you is substantial, your best bet for avoiding the most severe penalties may be securing a deal through plea bargaining.
Fortunately, prosecutors often have more work than they can handle. With large caseloads, and courts dealing with significant backlogs, prosecutors are often eager to settle a case as quickly as possible as long as they can count it as a win. The terms your lawyer will be able to negotiate for a settlement deal will depend on several factors, including:
- The strength of the evidence against you
- Whether you have prior convictions
- Whether anyone was harmed
- The size of the prosecutor’s workload
Plea deals can come in a variety of forms. The terms of your deal may include pleading guilty to the BWI charge in exchange for penalties at or near the minimum sentencing guidelines. Alternatively, the prosecutor could end up dropping the BWI charge if you plead guilty to a lesser offense.
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Common Defenses in BWI Cases
When dealing with a BWI charge, there are several defenses your attorney may use to help you fight a conviction. To determine the best defense for your case, your lawyer will review all the details of your arrest. Some of the arguments that are most common in these types of cases include:
- Your rights were violated
- You were not intoxicated
- You were not operating the boat
Your Rights Were Violated
There are many laws used to protect those accused of crimes from being unfairly treated and wrongfully convicted. If police officers fail to respect your rights, your Binghamton BWI attorney can appeal to the court to take action in your case.
If the court does intervene, the potential consequences can be significant. In cases where the rights of a defendant are severely abused, a judge could declare the evidence against you inadmissible, and your case may be dismissed.
You Were Not Intoxicated
If you were not intoxicated, you obviously should not be found guilty of a violation of New York’s BWI laws. Fortunately, in a criminal trial, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If they do not have hard evidence that proves you were intoxicated, your attorney should easily be able to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
You should know that this argument can still be used even if you failed a chemical or field sobriety test. Both forms of tests have been proven to be unreliable. Human error and equipment malfunctions commonly lead to inaccurate results.
Your Binghamton BWI lawyer will present the flaws in these testing methods to the jury and may even be able to show that specific mistakes were made in your case.
You Were Not Operating the Boat
If someone else was driving the boat, you obviously weren’t guilty of BWI. If the police arrive at the scene when the boat is no longer under power, it can be difficult to tell who was driving as the operator and passengers all tend to move around the boat. Unless clear evidence exists that proves that you were the one driving, it can be difficult for the prosecution to make their case.
Contact a BWI Attorney Serving Binghamton Today
The best way to protect yourself following a BWI arrest is by hiring an experienced BWI lawyer in Binghamton. Your lawyer will help you through every stage of the process, from police interviews to court appearances. Additionally, they will build a strong case on your behalf and potentially negotiate for a favorable plea deal.
At DWI Tom, we have a long history of helping our clients fight BWI charges. Contact us today by phone or through our website to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.