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Criminal Defense FAQs

If you have been arrested for drunk driving or other New York State criminal offenses, you probably have a lot of questions about what the future may hold for you. Below are answers to some of the questions we encounter most frequently at Peter M. Cordovano, P.C., as we advise and represent people charged with crime in Highland and other Hudson Valley communities in Ulster, Dutchess and Orange counties. Contact our office if you have other questions. If you have been arrested for DWI/DWAI or another offense, call (845) 691-4200 as soon as possible to protect your rights and your best chance for a positive outcome.

Q. Can the police force me to take a breath test if I’m pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving?

A. By accepting a New York driver’s license, you have given your implied consent to take a chemical test of your blood alcohol concentration when ordered to by the police. If you refuse to take the test, you can lose your license for a year or more and be ordered to pay a $500 fine, and the fact that you refused the test can be used against you in court as evidence of guilt.

Instead of a chemical test, the police may also ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests like walking a straight line or reciting the alphabet, or they may give you a preliminary breath test or alcohol screen. These tests can be subjective, nonscientific or inaccurate and are often used to establish cause to make you take a chemical test. You can refuse to take these tests without penalty, and if the police don’t have other grounds to believe you may have been driving while intoxicated, then they may not have the grounds to require you to take a chemical test.

Q. What is the Driver Responsibility Assessment?

A. After a conviction for an alcohol-related or drug-related driving offense, or for refusing to submit to a required test of your blood alcohol concentration, you can be required to pay over a Driver Responsibility Assessment to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the amount of $250 a year for three years. This fee is on top of any other fees, fines, penalties or surcharges that are ordered by the court as part of your sentence for DWI or DWAI.

Q. When is an Ignition Interlock required?

A. For conviction of certain drunk driving offenses, it is possible to get a conditional discharge or probation, but the state may require an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) to be installed on your vehicle as part of the release. The purpose of the IID is to prevent you from starting your car if you have alcohol in your bloodstream (.025% or more), measured by blowing into the IID. If required, you will have to have the device installed and maintained for at least six months, all at your own expense.

Q. Is it better to take a plea or go to trial?

A. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors specific to your case, such as the strength of the prosecutor’s case, the strength of your defenses, the consequences of a conviction, your criminal history, and how favorable a plea you can get. No lawyer can guarantee the outcome of a trial, but once a plea is negotiated, it is nearly always accepted by the court. Often times an effective lawyer can negotiate a plea that avoids jail time and lessens the impact of a conviction on your criminal record. Your criminal defense attorney can discuss your options with you, but ultimately it will be your decision on whether to plea bargain or take your case to trial.

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