Question: I've been convicted of DWI multiple times in the past. Can you help me?
Answer: Absolutely. Yes.
In New York State, if you've been convicted of a DWI within the last ten years, your most recent DWI arrest will result in a felony DWI charge. A conviction on the new charge will also get you classified by the DMV as a person with a history of alcohol or drug abuse (15 NYCRR 136.1(b)(3)), and it will stop you from getting a drivers license, even if you can avoid going to jail.
We can help you. In fact, this is the point in time where you need an attorney the most. Felony DWIs have minimal jail term sentences, and in many courtrooms, a felony DWI conviction makes a person a serious candidate for a sentence to state prison. These charges are very, very serious.
Note: A moment ago I said “in many courtrooms.” Let me be clear. A first offense felony DWI is punishable by a maximum sentence of up to four years in state prison – in any courtroom. However, that is not a typical outcome – at least not for our office. The key point to understand is that, if you are convicted, a judge will sentence you, and every judge in the Seventh Judicial District is different. They all have different ideas about how to sentence defendants, and they all have different reactions to the tactics taken by different attorneys. Some judges routinely sentence persons convicted of felony DWI to state prison. Others don’t. All of these judges are trying to be fair and evenhanded. That having been said, your attorney can have an impact on the plea offers you get, and whether a judge will accept them. Good attorneys present facts and stories that change people’s minds – from the prosecutor who won’t make a reasonable offer, to the judge who typically sends people to state prison on second felony DWI convictions.
For example, we were hired in 2013 by a client who had two prior DWI offenses on his record (as well as some old DWAI charges). His last conviction was for felony DWI in 2009, and it resulted in a term of incarceration of 1-3 years at a state prison facility. (He was not represented by Jeannie D. Michalski back then.) Despite having previously been sent to state prison for a DWI, we negotiated a plea offer on his 2013 charge that only included four months of weekends in the local jail, and had it approved by the judge. The SAME judge who sentenced the client to state prison on a felony DWI four years earlier.
This is unusual. There is an order to things, and that includes punishment by our judicial system. Typically we see a build-up of sanctions against a person. A first criminal offense results in a fine, a second offense results in probation, a third offense results in jail or state prison, and a fourth offense makes a person an excellent candidate for state prison. Do you see the progression? Of course, very serious crimes result in state prison right away, but we rarely see a person who previously went to jail get back on probation, or a person who did straight time in state prison get back to serving weekends in the local jail.
So, if the question is whether we can help, the answer is “yes.” Not always, not everyone, but most of the time, most people – we can help.
We've had excellent successes trying DWI cases in court. We've also had excellent success in negotiating plea deals on felony DWIs that reduced the charges to non-felony charges. We've represented people from all walks of life, helped them get into alcohol and drug counseling, and seen them turn their lives around.