Rochester DWI Lawyers and Punishments for First Time Offenders

An individual’s first DWI offense can have a significant impact on criminal history, finances and employment opportunities. This charge should not be taken lightly just because it’s a first offense. It’s important to act quickly and seek help from trusted Rochester DWI lawyers and alleviate any chance at jail time.

In DWI cases, the state prefers probation over doing jail time. Most first-time offenders admit they have at least one drink a week. A significant number of these people even show signs of alcohol dependency. Alcohol counseling is often a condition of probation, but it can never be a condition of jail time.

Therefore, probation is usually in the defendant’s and the state’s best interest. Some form of probation may be almost inevitable, the exact nature of the DWI punishment for first-time offenders largely depends on the skill level of a Rochester DWI lawyer.

What are Some Direct Consequences of a First-Time DWI?

Most first-time offenders face simple DWI charges. If the defendant had a BAC level between .08 and .17, the maximum direct penalties are:

  • One year in jail,
  • $1,000 fine, and
  • Six-month drivers’ license revocation.

If the defendant had a BAC of .18 or above, the maximum license revocation period increases to one year.

The judge normally probates the jail time for about a year. During that time, the defendant must comply with all the terms and conditions imposed by the Monroe County judge and the probation department. Some of these conditions include:

  • Reporting at least monthly to a probation officer,
  • Working or attending school full time,
  • Avoiding further trouble with the law,
  • Remaining in the county,
  • Performing community service, and
  • Completing required classes, such as an alcohol evaluation and DWI victim impact panel.

Some courts probate the fine as well. A few courts require all the fines, plus all court costs, to be paid upfront.

Partial probation of the drivers’ license revocation may be available. Typically, if defendants install Ignition Interlock Devices in their vehicles, they can continue to drive, at least on a limited basis. IIDs are essentially portable Breathalyzers which are attached to the ignition. If the driver’s BAC is above a certain level, usually .04, the vehicle will not start.

What About the Indirect Consequences?

In terms of indirect consequences, the good news is that DWI is not a crime of moral turpitude. So, its effect on immigration and other matters may be limited. But that’s about the only good news.

Increased auto insurance rates are probably the most serious indirect consequence. Persons with DWI convictions must obtain high-risk insurance and keep it for at least three years. That could cause insurance premiums to double or triple.

Furthermore, DWI is a significant stain on an employment record. Frequently, insurance companies will not cover cab drivers, delivery drivers, or other commercial operators who have DWI convictions. On a related note, even if the jurisdiction has a ban-the-box law, a DWI conviction could be a significant employment barrier. Many employers believe these people make poor decisions and are generally unreliable.

How can a Rochester DWI Lawyer Reduce These Consequences?

Frequently, the state’s evidence in a DWI case is not particularly strong. For example, there may be a lack of evidence on a key point, such as operating the vehicle in a parking lot or other private place, as opposed to a public place. Or, the state might have a hard time establishing alcohol intoxication.

In these cases, a plea to DWAI (Driving While Alcohol Impaired) might be an option. Like DWI, DWAI is a misdemeanor. However, direct consequences are not quite as severe. Furthermore, the indirect consequences, specifically in terms of higher insurance, might not be as severe either.

Contact a Dedicated Lawyer

The Constitution gives you the right to pretrial release, and a lawyer must normally enforce that right. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester DWI lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.

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