Plead Guilty to DWI?

Question: Should I just plead guilty to my DWI charge and get it over with?

Answer: Absolutely not.

There are far-reaching consequences to a DWI conviction in New York State.

First, you should remember that DWI is a crime in this state. A first offense DWI is a misdemeanor conviction. If you are convicted of a crime, it will stay on your record forever. There is no such thing as expungement in New York State, so you can’t hire a lawyer in a few years to try and get the conviction removed from your record. Every time you apply for a job, you'll have to answer the question "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" with a "yes."

If you are thinking about joining the armed forces you will find that they do not currently accept applicants with misdemeanor convictions on their New York State Information Sheet (rap sheet). If you are thinking about becoming a truck driver or heavy equipment operator you will find that getting a CDL after a DWI conviction is not always easy or possible. If you're a nurse or a doctor or a therapist or any other sort of licensed professional, you'll also have to deal with the Board of Education's Office of Professional Discipline, because under the rules of the Board of Education of the State of New York, committing a crime like DWI is in itself professional misconduct. If you plead guilty to the DWI, and then consent to a finding of professional misconduct, you will then have to deal with the possibility that you will be targeted for a spot on the Medicaid or Medicare exclusion list. The repercussions from a DWI conviction just keep on adding up.

You'll also have to deal with civil fines. We’re not talking about the fines and surcharges set by the court, or the cost of the ignition interlock device, or the cost of attending the Drinking Driver Program. We’re talking about a civil fine that the DMV will assess against you in the amount of $250.00 a year for the next 3 years.

As if all those consequences weren’t bad enough, a prior conviction of DWI can result in enhanced penalties and charges if you are arrested for DWI or DWAI in the future. Instead of a misdemeanor charge, you could be facing a felony charge with a minimum jail term. License suspensions and revocations are extended on subsequent convictions as well. In the event that you hold a CDL, you could face a permanent, lifetime revocation of your ability to drive commercial motor vehicles.

All this may sound like too much to overcome, but it isn’t. A lawyer experienced in DWI and employment law can help you navigate the obstacles set by different licensing agencies in New York State – at Jeannie D. Michalski, LLP we do it every single day. We offer free consultations for DWI clients, so call (585) 351-2500 today and come meet us at either our Brighton or Avon office. We look forward to talking about your case and helping you.