New DWI Punishments In New York Begin This Month

Tougher penalties could see more prison time and fines for offenders

New laws are in effect in New York that are designed to increase the penalties for repeat DWI offenders. According to the Glen Falls Post-Star, beginning Nov. 1 police will more easily be able to charge people with a felony if they are accused of multiple DWIs within an extended time frame. The so-called Vince's Law could mean an increase not only in tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders, but also hefty fines and severe driving restrictions.

New law in effect

Vince's Law was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August and, starting this month, will give police increased powers for charging people accused of DWI. According to the Southampton Press, the law will mean that people who have three or more DWI convictions in less than 15 years will automatically be charged with a class D felony. People convicted of their second DWI in less than 10 years will likewise face a felony charge.

Under the previous law, while people could be charged with a felony for two or more DWI convictions in less than 10 years, there was not a similar rule pertaining to longer time periods. Therefore, a series of DWI convictions spaced longer than 10 years apart would result in a misdemeanor rather than a more serious felony charge for the defendant.

Tougher penalties

The new felony charges mean some people charged with a DWI could face tough penalties if convicted. The class D felony could see convicted offenders hit with seven year prison sentences, $10,000 in fines, and a license suspension lasting 18 months.

Some experts have criticized the new law, saying it will do little to deter drunk driving. They insist that increasing punishments fails to attack the problem at the root of drunk driving. Rather, the state should be investing more in treatment and rehabilitation programs in order to discourage drunk driving from happening in the first place.

Defending against a DWI charge

As the above story shows, being charged and convicted of a DWI in New York carries serious consequences, especially with such stiffer penalties now in place. People charged with a DWI run the risk of not only serving time in prison, but they could also have their licenses suspended or restricted, thus making it difficult to maintain employment or travel freely.

Anybody currently facing a DWI charge should not delay in reaching out for legal representation as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide valuable assistance in fighting against a DWI or any other criminal charge that his client may currently be up against.