The difference between being charged with a felony Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge versus a misdemeanor is dependent on many different circumstances at the time of the traffic stop. A person may face felony DWI charges if he has previous DWI convictions. In addition, if the person driving while intoxicated causes an accident where there are injuries or fatalities, then he will face serious felony charges punishable by decades in prison.
DWI After a Previous Conviction
If a person is charged with a DWI within 10 years of a previous DWI conviction, he may be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor. This type of felony DWI is charged as a Class E felony. It is the lowest class of felony charges, but does carry the potential for a person to spend more than a year in prison.
The same analysis applies if a person has been charged with Aggravated DWI, Driving While Ability Impaired – Drugs (DWAI-D), or Driving While Ability Impaired – Combined Influence (of drugs and alcohol) and has a previous alcohol-related or drug impairment driving conviction. A conviction in the past 10 years of vehicular assault of vehicular manslaughter also might result in a more serious felony charge.
DWI When There is a Child under 16 Years of Age – Leandra’s Law
In 2010, New York made changes to its Vehicle and Traffic Code, which included the addition of a law that made it a Class E felony to be charged with a DWI when there is a child traveling in the vehicle who is younger than 16 years old. The new Leandra’s Law imposes severe penalties and is being aggressively prosecuted at this time.
Potential Penalties after a Felony DWI Conviction
Felony convictions may lead to the imposition of severe penalties. The lowest class of felony, a Class E charge, imposes many punitive measures on a person, including:
- A prison term of up to four years;
- Fines between $1,000 and $5,000;
- Probation that could last up to five years;
- The revocation of the person’s driver’s license for a one-year period. In order to get re-licensed, the DMV may require that the individual complete an alcohol rehabilitation program before being able to regain his license;
- The installation of an ignition interlock device in the driver’s vehicle after restoration of driving privileges; and
- Mandatory attendance of a Victim Impact Panel.
These charges become more serious if the prior convictions were within a shorter time period, with additional penalties imposed based on a previous conviction between five and 10 years before the current charge, and even more severe punitive measures if the prior conviction was less than five years before the current charges.
If there have been two prior convictions for a driving while intoxicated offense within the ten year period before the present matter, then the current DWI or other alcohol-related charge may be brought as a Class D felony. If convicted, a person faces up to seven years in prison, higher fines, a longer revocation period of a driver’s license, and other sentence penalties. When the prior convictions were within the previous five years, there are mandatory penalties, including an alcohol or substance abuse assessment and required treatment as a condition of probation or conditional discharge. Although there are minimum sentences, when a person has multiple DWI convictions, he faces far more than the minimum penalties.
Manhattan Felony DWI Attorney
A person may hesitate to retain skilled legal counsel when facing a felony DWI charge, but the consequences of this type of conviction will have a resounding impact for many years, if not the rest of a person’s life. There always may be potential defenses and the skilled and diligent New York Criminal Defense Attorneys at Greco Neyland, PC know how to evaluate every aspect of the case in order to find them. There is a reason that a person has the constitutional right to an attorney and embarrassment, shame, or guilt should never prevent a person from asserting that right. To discuss your case during a free initial consultation, call us at (212) 951-1300. We have offices in Manhattan to serve all five boroughs of New York City.