When it comes to driving while intoxicated (DWI), everyone knows the dangers and how seriously these offenses are treated by the state of New York. However, people often don’t put nearly as much thought into boating while intoxicated (BWI). If you have been arrested on a BWI charge, hiring a BWI lawyer in Syracuse can be essential.
At DWI Tom, we have a long history of helping those arrested on BWI charges. We understand the seriousness of these charges and will do everything within our power to help you fight back against a conviction. Contact us today by phone or through our website to schedule a free initial case review with one of our Syracuse DWI attorneys.
Penalties in a BWI Case in Syracuse
If you were arrested on a BWI charge, you need to be aware of the penalties you could potentially face if convicted. In New York, BWIs were treated as less serious offenses than DWIs until 2006. Now the criminal penalties of a conviction are the same for both charges.
It is important to understand that the penalties you face will increase if you have prior BWI or DWI convictions on your record in the past year.
First-Offense BWI Penalties
The state of New York treats a first-offense BWI charge as a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of this offense, you will face a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Additionally, your boating operator privilege will be revoked for 12 months.
Second-Offense BWI Penalties
A second BWI offense within 10 years is handled as a Class E felony. The penalties for a conviction of a second-offense BWI increase drastically. If convicted, you will face fines ranging between $1,000 and $5,000, as well as a prison term of up to four years. In addition, the suspension of your boating operator privileges will extend to 24 months.
Third-Offense BWI Penalties
If you face your third offense within a 10-year period, the consequences of a conviction will once again rise sharply. In New York, a third-offense BWI is treated as a Class D felony. The penalties of a conviction include fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 and a prison term of up to seven years. In addition, you will again face a 24-month revocation of your boating operator privileges.
DWI Convictions As Past Offenses When Assessing Penalties
You should also note that while a DWI will count as a past offense, the same as a prior BWI conviction with regard to legal consequences, this is not the case when it comes to your operator privileges. Only a prior BWI will increase the length of this suspension.
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Common Defenses Against BWI Charges
There are a variety of defenses you will potentially be able to use against a BWI charge. When you hire an experienced Syracuse BWI lawyer, they will evaluate the details of your case to determine the most effective defensive strategy.
You Were Not Driving the Boat
An often-used defense that can be very effective in these cases can be to argue that you were not operating the boat. Unlike in a car, where the passenger and driver typically remain in the same positions in the vehicle, people often get up and move around in a boat.
Unless the arresting officers actually see you behind the wheel at the time of the arrest, it can be hard to know for sure who was driving. If the boat is not in motion when the police arrive at the scene, proving who was operating the watercraft can be challenging.
False Results from Chemical Testing
When it comes to chemical testing in BWI and DWI cases, mistakes are often made. Faulty equipment and human error are the leading causes of problems in chemical test results. Like field sobriety tests, chemical tests are notoriously unreliable.
Your attorney will be able to show the jury countless examples of errors in chemical testing, demonstrating that the results of these tests can not be trusted. Also, depending on the evidence available, they may even be able to prove that mistakes were made in your case.
Violation of Your Rights
Police officers are not exempt from following the rules. Even when you are accused of a crime, you have legal rights that the arresting officer and any other police involved in your case must respect. If your attorney can show that your rights were violated, the consequences can vary significantly.
In extreme cases, proving a violation could result in the evidence against you being inadmissible and the charges against you being dismissed.
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Plea Bargaining Might Be Your Best Option
While it is always ideal to beat the charges you face, sometimes that simply isn’t possible. When the evidence against you is overwhelming, your best option for a favorable outcome may be through plea bargaining. An experienced BWI lawyer in Syracuse can help you negotiate a favorable plea deal with the prosecution.
The good news is that prosecutors often have a large stack of cases on their desks. Because of an overworked court system, there is a good chance that the prosecutor, in your case, will be willing to negotiate. Often, as long as they can mark it down as a win and get the case off their plate without having to take it to trial, they’ll be willing to agree to a deal.
Many factors will determine how favorable of terms you will be able to get in a plea deal. Your attorney will likely push to have the BWI charge dropped in exchange for your pleading guilty to a lesser charge. However, you may have to settle for a deal where the prosecutor agrees to the minimum or near minimum sentencing if you plead guilty to the BWI charge.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With an Experienced BWI Lawyer Serving Syracuse Today
After getting arrested on a BWI charge, you need to take steps to protect yourself. The best thing you can do for your case is to hire an experienced Syracuse BWI attorney. Your lawyer will be present for any interviews with police and guide you through the whole process while building your defense.
At DWI Tom, we have helped countless people facing BWI charges get favorable outcomes for their cases. Contact us today by giving us a call, completing our contact form, or using our chat tool, and schedule a free initial consultation with one of our DWI defense lawyers.