During pandemic lockdowns, VMT (vehicle miles traveled) dropped sharply in the Empire State. However, the number of DUIs hardly changed.[1] Translation? More drunk drivers were on the road than ever before during the lockdowns. Generally, bad habits, like driving while intoxicated, are easy to form and hard to break. Police officers are determined to force people to break this habit and reduce the number of DUI arrests in NY.

Most of the new arrestees are first-time DUI offenders who, in most cases, have never been through the system before. We’ve posted about DUIs several times. But this post will focus on what happens in the thirty days following an arrest and how a Rochester DUI lawyer can help you through a very difficult and frightening time.

Jail Release after DUI Arrest in NY

First things first. Initially, immediate jail release is priority number one. Nothing else is even close. New York has relaxed its pretrial release laws recently. However, jail release is still not guaranteed, especially after a DUI arrest. County sheriffs, who set presumptive bail amounts in most cases, often consider these offenders a public hazard.

Nevertheless, DUI is technically a nonviolent crime, at least in most cases. Therefore, OR (Own Recognizance) release may be available. That’s especially true if the defendant provided a chemical sample below .15 and no other enhancements, like a collision, apply.

If available, OR release is the way to go. The cost is minimal and post-release supervision is minimal as well. Basically, if a defendant promises to walk the line, under the law, the sheriff must take this promise at face value.

The pretrial release process in most Upstate New York counties doesn’t include a hearing. However, a Rochester DUI lawyer may informally advocate for defendants and work to secure OR release.

Other options might be immediately available as well, once again,  if the case has no enhancements. Immediate release options include cash bail and a bail bond. Cash bail is a lot like a security deposit; a bail bond is basically an insurance policy.

If the cash bail amount is too high or, usually because of enhancements, a bail bond isn’t available, the judge must hold a bail reduction hearing if a Rochester DUI lawyer asks for one. Generally, the judge must hear bail reduction arguments within seventy-two hours of the arrest. Frequently, these matters settle before the hearing. For example, the prosecutor might agree to pretrial release if the defendant agrees to stricter IID monitoring (more on that below).

Drivers’ License Suspension/Restriction

A chemical test refusal or failure triggers New York’s administrative license revocation process. Usually, defendants have thirty days to request a hearing, or the full suspension period automatically takes effect. Usually, these suspension periods are:

  • Six months for the first failure,
  • Twelve months for a first refusal,
  • Twelve months for a second failure, and
  • Eighteen months for a second refusal.

Some of these actions are suspensions, and others are revocations. There’s a difference. Drivers can re-activate suspended licenses after the suspension period ends if they jump through some hoops, such as paying a reinstatement fee. After a revocation period ends, the driver must start the whole process anew.

Rochester DUI lawyers can help defendants obtain limited licenses, which allow defendants to drive for most essential purposes in some cases. Additionally, in a few cases, an attorney can overturn the suspension or at least reduce the period.

New York law generally mandates Ignition Interlock Devices as a jail release condition or as part of a limited license. An IID is basically a portable Breathalyzer attached to the vehicle’s ignition.

Alcohol Evaluation

In Monroe County, alcohol evaluations are mandatory if the defendant refused to provide a sample or had a BAC above .15. Judges often order these evaluations in other cases as well. Frankly, many Rochester DUI lawyers overlook this part of the post-arrest process. However, the alcohol evaluation often traps many defendants, especially first-time offenders.

Many first-time offenders don’t regularly consume alcohol. They just had one too many and got caught. When these people tell counselors they don’t have alcohol problems, the counselors claim they’re in denial and refuse to move forward. If that happens, the entire criminal process gets stuck in neutral.

Usually, an attorney cannot overturn this requirement. However, a lawyer can ensure that a defendant sees a counselor who understands how the DUI arrest went down. So, the process keeps moving forward, and everything ends sooner.

There’s a big difference between a criminal arrest and a criminal conviction. Contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi for a free consultation with an experienced Rochester criminal attorney for DUI. Virtual, home, and jail visits are available.



[1] https://trid.trb.org/view/1889082

The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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