Anyone in New York found guilty of a DWI (driving while intoxicated) will be subject to a substantial fine and either a suspension or revocation of their license. Defendants might also face a term in jail, especially for repeat or aggravated charges.
But a DWI isn’t just about the official sanctions and penalties. Beyond the legal system, there are many other implications, like higher insurance premiums, the inconvenience of not driving, travel restrictions associated with a criminal record, and potential employment issues.
Because the consequences are so significant, it’s always worth exploring all your options if you’re charged with a DWI. That includes the possibility of a plea bargain to reduce your charge. In principle, there are several ways to plead down a DWI. However, it’s challenging to do so in practice, especially without expert legal representation.
If you’re facing a DWI charge, read on to learn more about the potential ways to plead down your charge. We will cover the legal definitions and penalties, scenarios where a plea bargain might be applicable, behavior that reduces your chances, and how using an experienced lawyer can help.
All states consider driving under the influence to be a serious offense, and that includes New York. No prosecutor wants to be perceived as soft on drunk driving, plus strict official guidelines often constrain them.
A “wet reckless” charge equates to an offense of alcohol-related reckless driving. If you’re only just over the limit, there’s no accident damage, and you have no previous convictions, then the prosecutor might agree to this reduced charge. The advantages of a wet reckless charge are clear: a more minor fine, no time in jail, and no DWI conviction (although the charge will count as a prior offense if you’re arrested for a second offense).
That might make it sound like it’s relatively easy to get your charge reduced. But the reality is that pleading down a DWI is incredibly difficult to do in New York, and in many cases, is simply not an option.
Potential grounds for a plea bargain include questioning the accuracy of the roadside breathalyzer, an officer failing to read you your rights, or not operating the breath test machine properly.
However, the following actions might almost certainly end your chances of a plea bargain:
If you admit to the arresting officer that you’ve been drinking and tell them how much you had, that becomes a matter of record and leaves you with very little room to maneuver. You’re probably better off saying nothing when an officer asks if you’ve been drinking.
Although you’re within your rights to refuse a roadside breath test, there are consequences if you do so. You may be arrested, taken back to the station, and tested there. Or you might be charged with a Chemical Test Refusal. The authorities might also conclude that you’re refusing the test because you know that you’re over the limit, thus reducing any chance to negotiate.
Your chances of striking any plea bargain will be significantly reduced if you commit any other offenses, such as resisting arrest, attacking the officer, or trying to flee the scene. You might be able to get several charges rolled into one, but you’re unlikely to get anything reduced simply because of the multiple nature of the offenses.
There are various DWI charges and penalties in New York State, typically related to your blood alcohol content (BAC) level and the seriousness of the offense:
There may be other potential charges, including zero tolerance for young drivers and Chemical Test Refusal. In all cases, you might also be looking at a substance abuse evaluation, educational programs, an ignition interlock device, and other potential surcharges.
In New York, there’s no difference between a DWI and a DUI (driving under the influence). Some states define a DWI as driving while impaired by alcohol and a DUI as driving when impaired by alcohol and/or prescription or recreational drugs. In New York, they’re effectively the same.
Successfully pleading down a DWI to a wet reckless requires a particular skill-set, which you’re unlikely to have unless you’re a legal professional. That’s why it’s so crucial to enlist the best legal support if you’re charged with a DWI offense.
With an experienced DWI lawyer at your side, you’ll benefit directly from their expert legal knowledge and practical know-how from previous cases. Although your attorney may not be able to reduce your charge, they might still have room to negotiate lesser penalties, such as a reduced fine, shorter license suspension, or no time in jail.
No matter how remote your chances might be, if there’s any possibility you can get a DWI charge reduced to a wet reckless, it’s well worth trying. The experienced team at Marble can review all the evidence, explain the legal process to you, and help outline your chances. Contact us now for a free case assessment to learn more.