The dangers of driving while intoxicated (DWI) are well documented, and everyone knows that the penalties for a conviction can be incredibly harsh. However, when it comes to boating while intoxicated (BWI), most people are unaware of how this crime is treated. In New York, the penalties for BWI match those for DWI. If arrested, a BWI lawyer in Hudson Valley can help.
At DWI Tom, we understand how a BWI conviction can turn your life upside down. We have helped countless clients beat the charges against them. If arrested on a charge, it is critical to secure the services of an experienced Hudson Valley DWI lawyer. Contact us today by phone or through our website to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
Penalties for a Hudson Valley BWI Conviction
If arrested on a BWI charge in Hudson Valley, it is essential that you understand the penalties you will face if convicted. The state of New York treats BWI offenses as serious crimes, and the penalties will vary significantly depending on whether or not you have prior convictions on your record.
First-Offense BWI Conviction
If arrested on a first-offense BWI in Hudson Valley, the crime will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor. The penalties for a conviction include up to one year in jail and fines ranging from $500 to $1,000. In addition, your boat operator privilege will be suspended for one year.
Second-Offense BWI Conviction
If you are convicted of a BWI charge in New York, and you have a prior conviction on your record within the previous 10 years, this offense will be prosecuted as a Class E felony. The penalties for a second offense include four years in prison and fines between $1,000 and $5,000. Additionally, your boat operator privilege will be suspended for two years.
Third-Offense BWI Conviction
If you have two BWI convictions on your record within the past 10 years, a third offense will be prosecuted as a Class D felony in New York. If convicted of a third offense, the penalties will again significantly increase with a prison term of up to seven years and fines from $2,000 to $10,000.
In addition, you will once again face a suspension of your boat operator privilege for two years.
DWIs as Prior Offenses in BWI Cases
When determining how your BWI offense will be prosecuted, you need to understand that any prior DWI convictions within the last 10 years will also count as prior offenses. However, while a DWI conviction on your record can lead to extended incarceration time and increased fines, it will not affect the length of your boat operator privilege.
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Common Defenses Used Against BWI Charges
When facing a BWI charge, there are a variety of defenses your attorney may be able to choose from to help you beat a conviction. After reviewing the details of your case, your Hudson Valley BWI lawyer will determine the argument that will likely work best for you. Some of the most common defenses against BWI charges include:
- Your rights were violated
- You were not operating the boat
- You were not intoxicated
Your Rights Were Violated
Both national and state laws exist that protect the rights of those arrested for crimes to protect them from unjust prosecution and wrongful conviction. If police officers violate your rights, your BWI attorney in Hudson Valley will petition the court to take action in your case.
If the court ends up intervening in your case, it can have a dramatic impact. In extreme cases, a judge may even declare that the evidence in your case is inadmissible, and the charges against you will be dismissed.
You Were Not Operating the Boat
Obviously, you can only be guilty of BWI if you were operating a boat. However, if the police arrive at the scene while the watercraft is not under power, it can be challenging to determine who was behind the wheel. Unless there is clear evidence that shows you were the one driving, the prosecution may find it difficult to prove their case.
You Were Not Intoxicated
If you were not intoxicated, you should not be convicted of BWI. The good news is that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If they are unable to produce hard evidence proving your intoxication, your Hudson Valley BWI attorney should have no trouble casting doubt about whether you were, in fact, intoxicated.
Even if you failed a chemical or field sobriety test, your attorney can show the inherent flaws that exist in these testing procedures. Human error and equipment malfunctions frequently result in inaccurate results in these tests. Your attorney can show the jury the problems with these testing procedures and may even be able to prove that errors were made in your tests.
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Plea Bargaining When Faced With a BWI Charge
When the evidence against you is overwhelming and avoiding a conviction seems unlikely, your best option for securing a favorable outcome to your case may be through plea bargaining.
When facing overwhelming evidence, the good news is that the courts tend to operate with a long backlog, and prosecutors typically have significant caseloads. Because of this, they are likely going to be willing to negotiate as long as they can settle your case quickly and chalk it up as a win.
The terms of a plea deal that your Hudson Valley BWI attorney will be able to negotiate will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- The strength of the prosecution’s evidence
- Whether you have prior convictions
- Whether anyone was harmed
- The size of the prosecutor’s workload
Plea deals can take many forms. In your case, the terms of your agreement may include pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for the prosecutor dropping the BWI charge. Another possibility may be agreeing to plead guilty to the BWI charge in exchange for leniency in sentencing with penalties at or near the minimum required by law.
Get in Touch With a BWI Attorney Serving Hudson Valley Today
Following an arrest, the best thing you can do is to hire an experienced BWI attorney to help with your case. At DWI Tom, we have a proven track record of success. Contact us today by phone or through our website to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.