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A Dangerous Combination

If you’re driving while intoxicated in New York, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or taking prescription drugs. The consequences are the same if you’re convicted, and those consequences can be quite harsh. If you’re charged with driving while intoxicated on Long Island or anywhere in New York City, it’s imperative to contact an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney as quickly as possible.

Marijuana and DWI

While a growing number of states are liberalizing their marijuana laws, concern is also growing across the nation about drivers who mix marijuana and alcohol. Some new research findings from Europe are causing even more apprehensions.

There is simply no question or debate – smoking pot and drinking alcohol together does far more damage to your driving ability than simply consuming either substance exclusively. That’s what researchers in the Netherlands at Maastricht University found when they tested a number of volunteers. When alcohol is combined with marijuana, and even when a driver’s blood alcohol content level is measurably under the legal limit, driving ability is substantially impaired, and a driver’s driving behavior resembles the driving pattern of someone significantly over the legal limit. Combining even small quantities of the two drugs together essentially destroys your ability to drive a vehicle safely.

Prescriptions and DWI

n the state of New York, if you are arrested and accused of driving while intoxicated, immediately take your case to an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney. Understand, however, that a second DWI conviction within ten years of the first is a Class E felony in New York, and if you are convicted, the penalties will a fine from $1,000 to $5,000 and ten days in jail or sixty hours of community service. If you’ve been convicted of DWI more than four or five times, you may be struggling with a dependency issue, and you should probably seek some counseling. Almost anyone can avoid DWI troubles by quitting alcohol. Drivers who don’t drink alcohol do not get charged with DWI – usually.

However, if you are using pharmaceuticals prescribed by your doctor, DWI can get complicated. You can’t just “quit” your prescription medication like you can quit drinking. Your medicine is keeping you healthy, but you probably should not drive while you’re talking it. Many prescription and over-the-counter medicines can impair your ability to drive. Driving while taking these medications could get you charged with DWI. You could be responsible for a collision, serious injuries, and even fatalities.

If your physician has prescribed medications for you or prescribes them in the future, ask the doctor to describe how the drugs will affect you. Always heed the warning labels that accompany medications. If you are accused of a prescription drug-related DWI in the state of New York, it’s like every other DWI charge. You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to consult an attorney before answering any questions. If you’re charged with DWI on Long Island or in any of the five boroughs, obtain legal help at once. Let an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney represent you and fight on your behalf. After any New York DWI arrest, make the call immediately.

What To Do If You’re Stopped for DWI

If you are pulled over by law enforcement officers on Long Island or in New York City because you are suspected of DWI, remain silent and do not consent to a search of your vehicle. One of your key rights is the right to remain silent. Sure, if you are a charming speaker, you might be able to talk your way around a traffic ticket, but a criminal investigation is another matter entirely. When you’re being investigated for a crime, talking with the police is almost always a mistake. You have the right to have an attorney present during any and all questioning. Don’t be concerned about your “Miranda” rights. As long as you are not under arrest, the police do not have to tell you your Miranda rights, but you always have a right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during any questioning.

The primary job of police officers, aside from maintaining order, is to gather facts and collect statements when alleged crimes are reported – no more, no less.  In the performance of a police investigation to gather facts and statements, police officers may have to decide whether or not to take a person to jail for processing and arraignment (a formal reading of charges to be pursued), but they make this decision based on the facts and statements provided, not on their own legal analysis.

In most cases, it is a person’s own statements that end up hurting them the most.  Even though the statements may seem simple and innocent enough, police are not trained to dissect facts and apply rules of law, they are trained to follow a checklist, of sorts, basing their decision to make an arrest based on certain words (in many cases, not even full sentences), which are reported to them.

You are never required to consent to an unwarranted search, but if a police officer has a search warrant, you must permit the search. If the police ask to conduct a warrantless search, you should insist on a warrant, but remain polite at all times when communicating with the police officer. A police officer has no right to detain you unless the officer has a reason to suspect that you committed a crime (or a traffic violation). If you are in doubt, simply ask the officer if you are free to go.

If you are arrested for marijuana-DWI, you’ll need an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney who can represent you aggressively while advocating for the best possible result. Even in first-offense, marijuana-DWI cases, New York courts are seldom lenient. Don’t plead guilty – fight the charge. If you face a DWI charge for any reason in Mineola, Nassau County, Suffolk County, or anywhere in New York City, contact an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney immediately.

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Ignition Interlock Devices

If you’re convicted of driving while intoxicated in New York, you’ll have to become familiar with an ignition interlock device (IID). Since 2009, New York has required drivers convicted of DWI to install an IID in any vehicles they own or operate. At sentencing, offenders have to provide information about any vehicles they own or else verify that they own no vehicle. The IID will cost you money, although financial assistance is available for low-income drivers by filing a “financial disclosure report” through New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services. Of course, if you’re charged with DWI, you want to avoid being convicted if that’s possible. If you face a DWI charge anywhere in the Long Island or New York City area, get legal help immediately by consulting with an experienced Long Island DWI attorney.

IIDs are intended to prevent alcohol-impaired driving. If an IID detects what it takes to be alcohol on a driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start. The IID transmits information to the IID provider, and it’s then turned over to probation authorities. You could find yourself re-sentenced to probation or to jail.

LifeSafer, a company that installs and maintains IIDs, admits that regular, over-the-counter mouthwash can cause a breath test failure with some of the devices. Mouthwash isn’t the only item that an IID can register as booze. Toothpastes, cough syrups, and even some food products can result in a false reading. To avoid this, always rinse your mouth with water before blowing into the device.

In the end, there’s probably no way that every risky driver can always, reliably be prevented from driving. An alternative and perhaps more worthwhile approach is to make every new car “DWI-proof.” DWI-proof cars have actually been in development since 2008, and the federal government believes that by 2020, these vehicles will be available for everyone. In June, the Department of Transportation put two “DWI-proofing” technologies on display for television and newspaper reporters. A “touch-based” system gauges a driver’s blood alcohol content level by scanning just under the skin of the driver’s fingers. A “breath-based” system basically fits a vehicle with interlock ignition device technology and requires a driver to “blow” before the vehicle will start.

Of course, the better way to avoid it is not to be charged with DWI in the first place. If you drive, don’t drink, and if you drink, designate a driver, call a taxi, or find another way. While there’s no doubt that technology can reduce traffic accident injuries and fatalities – seat belts and airbags prove that – the future isn’t here quite yet. If you’re charged with DWI anywhere in or near New York City, you’ll need to obtain the services of an experienced Long Island DWI attorney immediately. A good DWI defense lawyer will help you gather evidence and witnesses, dispute test results, and work aggressively to bring your case to the best possible resolution. A Long Island DWI attorney can help you get justice, but you must take the first step and make the call.

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If You Think New York Is Tough…

Driving while intoxicated (DUI ) is a serious crime in New York, and if you’re convicted, the legal and personal consequences can be severe. The wisest way to avoid DUI trouble is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. Call a cab, designate a driver, or just abstain. Although sentences can be tough, a DWI arrest doesn’t automatically mean a conviction; good DWI lawyers in New York win cases for their clients in a variety of ways. If you face a DWI charge anywhere in the Queens area, obtain legal help from an experienced Queens DWI attorney immediately.

While you definitely do not want to be convicted of DUI in New York, this state’s DUI penalties are quite lenient when compared against other nation’s DUI laws. Your first DUI offense in El Salvador, for example, is your last. You’ll be taken before a firing squad. Bulgaria is better; they don’t execute you until you receive a second DWI conviction. South Africa incarcerates you for ten years for a first offense and fines you $10,000. France confiscates your car after your first DWI conviction and takes your license for three years. Finland and Sweden send DWI first offenders to a year at hard labor. Russia revokes your license permanently, but Norway doesn’t permanently revoke your license until your second DWI conviction. In Sweden, your fine depends upon how much you have in the bank, and if you have no money, they take your car.

If you’re charged with DWI in New York City or anywhere in Queens, it’s a criminal offense, and you’ll need the help of a good Queens DUI lawyer. It’s more or less the same in every state except one. Wisconsin is still the only state where a first offense for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or under the influence (DUI) is not a criminal charge. In Wisconsin, the first offense is called “operating while intoxicated” or “OWI,” and offenders are issued merely a citation. An OWI in Wisconsin is punishable by a fine of $150 to $300 and a possible, brief license suspension, but no jail time. Additionally, Wisconsin is the only state with a law that explicitly prohibits law enforcement agencies from conducting sobriety checkpoints. That situation may not last long, however, as Wisconsin has become the target of increasing criticism from health experts, legislators, and victims’ rights lobbyists.

In the state of New York, DUI is always treated as a crime. In fact, the trend in New York for several years has been less lenience in first-offense DWI cases, so if you (or your teenager) face this charge, don’t anticipate a “slap on the wrist” just because it’s a first offense. In the New York City and Queens areas, you’ll need the help of an experienced Queens DUI attorney who can look at the specifics of your case, explain your options, and work on your behalf for justice. Even if it’s “only” a first offense, if you face any DWI charge in New York, speak with an experienced Queens DWI lawyer as quickly as possible.

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