New York City BWI Lawyer
Everyone is aware of the dangers of driving while intoxicated (DWI). This offense is treated seriously in New York City and can lead to severe penalties. However, most people don’t know that the state views boating while intoxicated (BWI) as a similarly egregious offense. If you were arrested on a BWI charge, hiring an experienced New York City BWI lawyer can be essential.
At DWI Tom, we have a long track record of helping those accused of BWI fight the charges against them. We understand the challenges a conviction can pose and believe you deserve experienced legal representation. Contact us today by phone or through our website to schedule a free initial consultation with a New York City DWI lawyer.
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New York City BWI Penalties
When facing a BWI charge, it is essential that you understand the potential consequences of a conviction. In New York City, the penalties for BWI vary drastically depending on whether or not you have prior BWI convictions.
First-Offense BWI Penalties
In New York City, a first-offense BWI is a misdemeanor charge. If you get convicted of this crime, you will face up to one year in jail and fines ranging from $500 to $1,000. In addition, your boat operator privilege will be revoked for one year.
Second-Offense BWI Penalties
For a second offense within a 10-year period, the penalties of a BWI conviction increase drastically. In New York City, a second-offense BWI is prosecuted as a Class E felony. If convicted, you will face up to four years in prison, as well as fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Additionally, your boat operator privilege suspension will increase to two years.
Third-Offense BWI Penalties
If you have already been convicted of two BWI charges in the past 10 years, the penalties for a third conviction will again drastically increase. In New York City, a third-offense BWI is treated as a Class D felony. A conviction could result in a prison sentence of up to seven years, along with fines from $2,000 to $10,000.
Additionally, you will face another two-year suspension of your boat operator privilege.
DWIs as Prior Offenses When Determining Penalties
Any DWI convictions within the past 10 years will also count as prior offenses for legal penalties if facing a BWI charge. However, a DWI charge will not be taken into account when it comes to the suspension of your boat operator privilege.
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Defenses Commonly Used Against BWI Charges in New York City
When facing a New York City BWI charge, there are a variety of defenses your attorney can use to help you avoid a conviction. When determining the best defense for your case, your attorney will review all the details of your situation and the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Some of the defenses most likely to be considered include:
- You were not intoxicated
- You were not operating the boat
- Law enforcement officers violated your rights
You Were Not Intoxicated
If you were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you were not in violation of New York City’s BWI laws. The good news when facing a BWI charge is that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Without hard evidence that proves you were intoxicated, your attorney can take several approaches to show that there are holes in the case of the prosecution.
Even if the prosecution can show that you failed a field sobriety or chemical test, your attorney can potentially overcome this evidence. Both of these types of tests are susceptible to errors. Equipment malfunction and human error commonly result in faulty test results.
Your lawyer can demonstrate the inherent faults in these tests and, after investigating your case, may even be able to present hard evidence of how your test results were incorrect.
You Were Not Operating the Boat
If you are arrested for BWI and were not operating a boat, you are not guilty of the charges you face. Unlike in most DWI cases, it is not always clear who was driving in a BWI case. If the police arrive at the scene while the boat is not under power, it can be challenging to determine who was behind the wheel.
Unless there is clear evidence that you were the one driving, it can be easy to sow doubt with the jury.
Law Enforcement Officers Violated Your Rights
Many laws exist to protect those accused of crimes from being wrongfully convicted. You have a variety of rights that police officers must respect during the course of an arrest. If your rights are violated in any manner, your attorney can appeal to the court for action to be taken.
The potential consequences of a violation vary depending on the severity and manner of the violation. In extreme cases, a violation of your rights may lead to the judge declaring the evidence against you inadmissible, and your case may even be dismissed outright.
Plea Bargaining in a BWI Case
When facing a BWI charge in New York City, the best outcome is always going to be avoiding a conviction. Unfortunately, in some cases, this outcome is unrealistic. If the evidence against you is clear and overwhelming, your best option may be to pursue a deal through plea bargaining.
The good news is that prosecutors are often overworked and have a large caseload they are looking to clear. Because of this, they may be willing to be lenient as long as they can mark your case down as a win and move it off their desk without going through the extended process of going to court.
The terms your attorney will be able to negotiate depend on a variety of factors, including:
- Whether or not you have prior convictions
- How many cases the prosecutor has to handle
- If anyone was harmed
- The strength of the evidence
A plea deal can take a variety of forms. You may plead guilty to the original charge in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing to sentencing terms at or near the minimum allowed by law. Alternatively, the prosecutor may agree to drop the BWI charge in exchange for you pleading guilty to a lesser offense.
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Contact an Experienced New York City BWI Lawyer for a Free Initial Consultation
The best way to protect yourself after an arrest is by contacting an experienced New York City BWI lawyer. Your lawyer will be with you through every step of the process, including police interviews and court appearances. They will work to build a strong defense on your behalf and negotiate with the prosecution.
At DWI Tom, we have helped countless people accused of BWI fight the charges they face and secure a favorable outcome to their case. Contact us today by phone or through our website and schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.