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DWI Cases: Q&A

Individual Attention in DWI Defense

If you have been arrested in Westchester County and beyond, for DWI, DUI, DWAI or Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs, you need a lawyer who you can relate to and trust to achieve the best possible outcome.  Too much is at stake to hire just anyone: your license, your job, or your livelihood.  A specialist is needed.

Whether it is worth it to hire an attorney to represent you for a DWI will depend largely on your financial situation. Not every attorney is worth it; some charge much too much, in my estimation. However, for what is, in my opinion, a reasonable amount of money, you can get very good value and receive very good service in return. It’s not worth it to risk your life and your future by not hiring a lawyer or relying on the court to provide you with a lawyer that is not your personal choice. If you hire a lawyer who is a DWI specialist, you will have a much greater chance of seeing a favorable outcome that doesn’t ruin either your life or your future.

Hiring a DWI specialist is much like hiring a specialist to perform surgery on you; because they have handled so many cases before, they know the process, they know the judges and they know the prosecutors in the District Attorney’s office, which means they will be more likely to get you the best possible outcome for your case.

You won’t know the answer to that until the end of the case, when you see the result and decide whether you’re satisfied, but you can get a feel for an attorney’s skill level when he appears with you in court. You should also be able to tell if he or she seems to know what they’re doing, if the people at the courthouse know him, if he’s comfortable in a courtroom setting and if he presents himself well while he’s representing you.

Defending yourself is a bad idea for many reasons, but mainly, it’s because the law is too complicated and if you’re not well versed in it, you won’t know what to do. That means it becomes a hassle for the judge, who will have to constantly correct the way you’re proceeding, to ensure that you get a fair defense. Again, it’s the age of specialty and criminal charges; DWI charges in particular are so complicated now, you couldn’t possibly defend yourself. It’s the same reason that you don’t provide yourself with your own medical care.

The main reason public defenders can’t spend a lot of time on your case is because their caseloads are too large. I don’t know that statistics are published anywhere but you can tell by the number of files that a public defender brings to court the type of pressure and time constraints they are under. They speak to a district attorney about as many as 10-15 cases at once, so yours is likely to be lost in the pile, which means it can’t possibly receive the individualized attention it deserves.

That is the age old question; in Westchester County in New York, where I practice, up until about a year ago, it was more advantageous to not blow if it was a first offense, because there was a better chance of getting the initial DWI charge, a misdemeanor, reduced to a traffic violation. Since then, however, the district’s attorney in Westchester and most of the contiguous and outlying counties have adopted different rules, which means you don’t get the benefit of not blowing; if you don’t blow, they are going to treat it as if you blew a very high number.

In other words, regardless of whether you blow or not, the chances are slim that they’ll reduce the charge, which makes this a much more difficult question to answer. If you’re looking to get your charges reduced, it’s probably better to blow, because there’s a possibility you could blow a lower number than you thought, which could reduce the consequences through a reduced charge. However, if you’ve been drinking a lot, or you’re involved in an accident with serious personal injury, you will be in a position where you might want to contest the matter at trial, and it’s always better not to blow in that circumstance.

Very few people pass field sobriety tests, in part because the standards are so subjective and ambiguous that most stone sober people couldn’t pass them, if they were on the side of the road late at night with cars speeding by. I know of very few people who have passed those tests, although I wouldn’t be in contact with them, anyway, because if they passed, they wouldn’t be charged with DWI, so they wouldn’t seek me out.

There are so many ways they are bad news; for one thing, most police officers are not well trained in giving them, but also, they’re not standardized, no matter what police claim. If they were so reliable and standardized, they should be recorded on video, and the judge and jury should be able to look at them and judge for themselves whether instructions were followed and whether a person actually failed. Unfortunately, police don’t do that, for a reason.

You have to hope that the police officer doesn’t have any evidence other than your admission to the two beers. Once you admit to two beers, you’re going to be asked to step out of the car and take field sobriety tests, and as I indicated, chances are you will not pass the field sobriety tests according to the police officer, so you’ll be arrested and then you will have the choice as to whether to blow or not blow.

If you’ve honestly had just two beers, you might want to take the chance of taking the breath test and possibly blowing a very low number. However, in terms of fighting the case, it will depend upon the results of field sobriety tests, the formal breath test and whether you can corroborate through other evidence that you only had two beers.

Most of the time in the standard DWI case, when you’re contesting intoxication or impairment you’re not going to hear those terms if you admitted to ingesting alcohol, because most judges and juries will almost always find some impairment. That means the best you will hear from the jury at the end of that DWI case is “Not guilty of DWI but guilty of the lesser charge; driving while ability impaired.” The only DWI case where you have a reasonably good chance of hearing “Not guilty” is when you’re contesting the case based on the claim that you were not operating the vehicle, such a if you didn’t intend to drive, or you were simply sitting in the car waiting for a friend with no intention of driving the car.

If a jury or a judge believes that, whether you are intoxicated or not; they’ll find you not guilty. “Case dismissed” is usually based upon legal technicalities and those are rare indeed, because judges are reluctant to just dismiss cases and take no action against an individual when there is evidence they were driving while intoxicated.

Every case is distinct and includes a separate set of facts, although the main thing with DWI cases is that, with time, he courts are treating them increasingly seriously, with ever-increasing consequences, especially for repeat offenders, while other types of criminal cases have stayed largely the same over time.

Regardless of the source of the intoxication, DWI is always treated the same under the law; the crime is driving while ability is impaired; it doesn’t matter why the driver is impaired. Under New York law is a misdemeanor for a first offense either way. When it comes to dealing win the case proceeding, plea bargaining and other things, there may be distinctions made, but generally they’re the same.

There have been some recent studies suggesting that impairment from marijuana, for example, is not as bad as from alcohol, so there is a possibility that a prosecutor might take into consideration the fact that the charges involve marijuana and not alcohol. There is also no way to differentiate amounts involved when you deal with drugs as opposed to alcohol.

With alcohol, you have the specific number produced by the Breathalyzer, whereas with drugs you don’t, so impairment by drugs is always a charge you can work with because one pill can result in a charge that is easier to refute’ although that’s the only distinction; it’s still a misdemeanor.

It is definitely more important because the penalties increase for the second and subsequent offenses. In fact, if it’s your second one within ten years, it’s a felony; the penalties rise from a maximum 12 months in jail to as much as four years in jail and you’ll have a felony record.

For the first DWI, it’s important to hire an attorney who’s a DWI specialist, but for a felony DWI, which means being hit with jail time and a felony conviction on your record, having an attorney who knows exactly what they’re doing is absolutely essential.

It’s harder to fight a case where a blood test is used as evidence because a blood test is usually more accurate, but there are always ways to fight any case. In a blood case, the focus of the fight will be based on procedures that must be followed whenever blood is taken. With taking blood, you have to show some way it may have been contaminated or show a problem with the chain of custody. There may be problems with the way it was tested, the track record or reputation of the lab doing the testing or something else; nothing is impossible, it’s just much more difficult.

If you ignore the DMV, your license will be suspended or revoked, and for a much longer period of time. Therefore, if driving is important to you, you’ve got to follow DMV regulations. Understand; the actions the DMV takes with regard to a DWI are much different and separate from the actual court case, so you shouldn’t ignore the DMV because they hold your ability to drive in their hands.

  • I have practiced Criminal Law in Westchester County for over 30 years, specializing in DWI and all of offenses involving the operation of vehicles while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.
  • I have handled over 1,000 DWI cases and participated in over 100 DWI trials.
  • I have extensive knowledge of all city, town and village courts in White Plains, Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mt Vernon, Bedford, Harrison, Greenburgh and throughout Westchester and Putnam Counties.
  • I will create a defense tailor-made for your case.
  • I am familiar with the idiosyncrasies of local judges and the unique policies of the Westchesterand Putnam County District Attorney’s Offices.
  • My fees are reasonable.
  • The first visit is totally FREE, whether you hire me or not.

  • We will set a face-to-face meeting immediately. I am always available.
  • We will discuss you case and I will explore every possible defense and explain the steps in the legal process to you. All options will be specified.
  • We will develop a strategy that will achieve your desired result.

  • I will personally handle every step of your case. When you hire me, you get me, not an associate.
  • I will confer with the judge and prosecutor and present your case in the best possible light.
  • We will develop a strategy that will achieve the desired result.

  • Most first-offense DWI cases are resolved by a plea bargain between you and the prosecutor.
  • A fine will be imposed.
  • A conditional license may be issued.
  • Probation may be offered, but should be avoided.
  • Although permitted by law, incarceration will not be imposed except under the most extreme circumstances.
  • If a trial is necessary, I will leave no stone unturned in presenting your case in a manner that will achieve the best result.

Experience And Compassion

For an experienced, aggressive and compassionate lawyer to handle your defense contact me to schedule a FREE initial consultation. My office hours are flexible and I am available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are in jail or in the hospital and cannot come to my office, I will travel to meet with you. I accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal and payment plans are available.
My fees are reasonable.

The first visit is totally FREE, whether you hire me or not.

NY Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kramer
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