The Road to Recovery: First Steps in Resolving Your DWI Charges

Inevitably, the first time I meet a new client charged with DWI they are racked with anxiety over the uncertainty of their future. Whether it is concerned over their liberty, their job, their reputation or their ability to drive a vehicle for work and family commitments, clients facing a DWI charge for the first time often feel overwhelmed. They don’t know where to begin to start making things right and get their lives back to normal. That’s where the lawyers at Cambareri & Brenneck come in. In this entry, I want to layout the initial steps that clients can undertake to assist us in achieving successful resolutions of their DWI charges.

Before ever setting foot in a courtroom, there are a few things that any experienced DWI lawyer should be advising his client to do:

(1) Prompt suspension/Hardship license:

Under NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law §1193(2)(e)(7), when a person appears for arraignment on their DWI charges, the Court must suspend their driver’s license if it is the possession of certified breath test results that show the person had a BAC of .08% or higher at the time they were charged with DWI. This means that the client cannot drive while the charges are pending in court, until such time as they are eligible for a conditional license. However, VTL §1193(2)(e)(7)(e) provides the judge with discretion to issue a hardship privilege during this time to allow the client to drive to and from work and medical appointments. An experienced DWI lawyer will meet with you to gather all the relevant information of your daily schedule and driving needs to prepare the necessary affidavits to help you obtain a hardship license.

(2) Alcohol Evaluation:

Every district attorney’s office in Central New York, as well as VTL §1198- a(2)(a)&(b), requires that a client charged with DWI undergo an alcohol and/or substance abuse evaluation to determine if the person is in need of a formal alcohol education or treatment program. A list of all New York State certified alcohol evaluators can be found at the following link: https://www.oasas.ny.gov/providers. An experienced DWI lawyer will help prepare you for this assessment so that you know what to expect and help ensure that you receive a timely and accurate assessment both for your own benefit but also to assist in obtaining the most favorable result possible when conferencing your case with the prosecutor.

(3) Victim Impact Panel:

Many of the district attorney’s offices in Central New York require you to attend a Victim Impact Panel (VIP) as part of resolving your DWI charges. VTL §1193(1)(f) also enables a judge to make this a condition of any sentence on an alcohol-related driving conviction. The VIP is a panel presentation at which people whose lives have been affected speak about the tragic effects drunk driving have had on them. It is one-time attendance and costs $25 to attend. At the end of the presentation, attendees are given a certificate of attendance that your lawyer will provide as proof to the court and the district attorney. Attendance at the VIP can be done at anytime during the pendency of your DWI charges. Information on the Onondaga County Victim Impact Panel can be found at the following link: https://www.preventionnetworkcny.org/programs-services/

Remember, these are only the initial steps in the process of reaching a successful resolution of your DWI charges. However, the more proactive you are in taking the steps your attorney guides to you through, the quicker and more favorable outcome your case is likely to have. This is an effective strategy to not only show the court and prosecutor that you are taking the charges seriously but also to help ease your anxiety about your DWI charges.