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Felony DUI

What makes one DWI charge a misdemeanor, and another a felony? There are many factors that can increase your charge and thus the ensuing penalties, ranging from whether you fled the scene of the crime, your criminal background/how many DWIs you have been convicted of in the past (see multiple DUI , if your BAC level was extremely high, whether a child was present in the car while you were driving drunk, whether extensive property damage occurred and whether anyone was injured or killed in the accident.

If you are convicted of a felony DWI, you can be sentenced to more than one year in state prison. The maximum sentence is four years in prison or five years of probation. Even just a first time felony DWI can result in fines anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

Recent Changes to New York DWI Laws

In 2009, a bill was signed into law that significantly increased an offender's chances of being charged with a DWI:

  • A person who operates a vehicle under the influence with a passenger under the age of sixteen, is guilty of a Class E felony offense
  • A person who causes the death of a person under the age of 16, can be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, which is a Class B violent felony
  • A person who causes serious physical injury to a person under the age of 16 can be charged with a Class C violent felony

What do these various classes of felonies mean? In New York, a Class A felony is the highest degree of felony (usually reserved for murder or treason). A Class B is one step below murder (involving violent crimes). A Class C is a lesser felony charge, but even this charge can result in high fines and up to 10 years in prison. Class D felonies are right beneath Class C, but are considered crimes without malice. A Class E felony is the lowest felony charge available. A Class E felony offense can result in two to five years in jail, depending on the circumstances of the case.

More on DUI Enhancements

New York is known for its hard-hitting DWI laws- if you were convicted of your second DWI charge within 10 years of your previous arrest, this new charge is a Class E felony. In most states, it is not a felony offense until your third or fourth DWI/DUI. A third offense or more within 10 years is a Class D felony. In New York, anyone caught driving with a BAC level of .18 or higher will be charged with "aggravated DWI," which is a felony offense.

In New York, a felony conviction is permanent. It cannot be expunged, which means you will not be able to vote, buy a gun, hold a state job or a job at a school, or receive government aid. A felony conviction can adversely affect your life, making it difficult to secure a job, further education, a house and loans.

Along with these penalties are the usual issues of driver's license suspension and increased insurance costs (if not insurance policy cancelation all together). A skilled criminal defense attorney can fight to have your case dismissed however, or in the worst case scenario can fight to have your charges reduced to a misdemeanor offense.

Alternatives to Prison

A legal advocate can help you fight for alternatives to prison, such as a split sentence, which consists of a short period in prison and a long term probation. If you are accepted into a Felony Drug Treatment Court, you could be sentenced to a 5 year term of probation, if you comply with all the terms of the program.

No matter what the circumstances surrounding your felony DWI charge, the reality is that this is an extremely serious charge that can land you into a lot of trouble, both in the short-term and the long-term. Don't throw your hands up in despair- fight your charges today with my aggressive legal representation on your side! I have 24 years of experience I can put to work for you- just contact my office today!

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Law Office of John M. Cromwell - White Plains Criminal Attorney
Located at 177 E. 161st St., Bronx, NY 10451.
Phone: (888) 372-9209.
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