If you thought that the most DWI-related fatalities in the state of New York would be in Manhattan or the Bronx, you’d be wrong. St. Lawrence County in rural upstate New York had the highest rate of DWI-related deaths in the state over a five-year period, according to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Manhattan, in fact, had one of the lowest rates of DWI-related deaths, as did Westchester County and the Bronx. From 2009 to 2013, DWI-related traffic collisions resulted in 1,715 fatalities in the state of New York.

The truth is, while some drivers are wrongfully accused of drunk driving, there really is no excuse for actually driving while intoxicated. In 2013, the most recent year that statistics are available, 362 people died in New York in DWI-related crashes. That’s 362 people too many. Most if not all of those deaths were preventable. Still, thousands are charged with DWI in New York every year, and the overwhelming majority of those charged are either innocent or simply drivers who made a bad decision in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Most first-time DWI offenders “get the message” and do not become repeat offenders.

Some people wrongly assume that if they have never been charged with a DWI before, the penalties will not be severe. However, that is not the case. Even a first time conviction for DWI can land you in jail for up to a year in the state of New York. Penalties for a first offense DWI can include fines from $500 to $1,000, up to a year in jail, up to three years of probation, and a “driver responsibility assessment” fee for the next three years. The penalties for repeat offenders become even more severe than these first time offender consequences. In addition to these penalties, you may also have your driver’s license revoked for six months. However, in some situations you may be approved for a conditional driving permit. This permit will allow you to legally drive to and from work or school so you can still earn an income and pursue an education while you are waiting to have your driver’s license reinstated. However, a conditional license is never a guarantee, so you should not count on being granted one if you are convicted of a DWI and have your license revoked.

If you are charged with DWI in Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, or Rockland County, you are going to need high-quality legal help fast. Contact an experienced Peekskill DWI defense attorney as quickly as possible for the sound legal advice and representation that you’ll need. If you are charged with DWI, do not try to act as your own attorney. Exercise your right to remain silent, be as polite as possible – even apologetic – and insist on your right to have a DUI attorney present during any questioning. Then contact our experienced Peekskill DWI defense attorneys immediately. Help is here if you are accused of driving while intoxicated, but you must take the first step and make the call.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.

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