Some people are so anxious about the outcome of criminal court proceedings that they immediately decide to plead guilty because they assume that, in doing so, they won’t have to endure the worst possible penalties.
However, judges see so many people pleading guilty that a plea may have minimal impact on how they sentence a defendant. If you have been charged with a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense in New York, not only will pleading guilty mean that you will have a criminal record that will affect your employment opportunities and access to higher education and housing, but you will also be subjected to criminal penalties by the court. These are the three main categories of consequences that you will likely face if you don’t fight back and are convicted of a DWI offense in New York.
The penalty that people focus on the most is the possibility of jail time. For many individuals facing a technical DWI offense where no one ended up hurt, the jail time for a first or second drunk driving offense will be minimal. However, when people end up hurt or there are numerous prior offenses on someone’s record, the risk of being sentenced to a prison sentence increases dramatically. Some people may only serve an overnight stay in jail after their arrest, while others could face up to seven years or more in state custody over drunk driving charges.
Fines imposed by the court
The judge presiding over your case can assess a fine as a penalty for your guilty plea or conviction. Your driving record whether you caused a crash, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and several other factors can influence how much the judge orders you to pay as a fine. The lowest possible fine for a first-time offender would be $300, but judges can order as much as $10,000 in fines.
Losing your driving privileges can be a real hardship, especially if you have a demanding career or young children at home. The longer you go without a license, the more inconvenient and expensive the suspension becomes. The length of time you will be without a driver’s license varies from a minimum of six months to up to 18 months.
When you understand the range of penalties you could face if you plead guilty, you may see the value in mounting a strong defense to the charges you’re facing. Learning more about New York’s impaired driving laws will allow you to make informed choices about your legal options.