Can I Go to Jail for a DWI on Long Island?

Last updated on September 28, 2022

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in the state of New York and carries some serious penalties, including a criminal record. One of the most common questions we get from clients who are charged with a DWI after a drinking and driving incident is, ‘can you go to jail for a DWI?’

The short answer is yes, there is always a possibility that your offense could land you in jail. However, the likelihood of that happening will depend on the exact circumstances around your DWI charge.  Before you make any decisions about your case, it is important to speak with a highly rated Suffolk County DWI lawyer.

Penalties for DWI in NY

In the state of New York, the first DWI offense is considered a misdemeanor and under normal circumstances does not result in jail time. Subsequent offenses can be treated as felonies with more severe penalties.

That being said, under state law in New York any DWI conviction can result in jail time, regardless of the number of offenses committed.

The maximum jail time for DWI offenses in New York can be broken down as follows:

  • 1st offense: Up to one year in jail
  • 2nd offense within 10 years: Up to four years in jail
  • 3rd offense within 10 years: Up to seven years in jail

As indicated above, the time between offenses will also play a part in the severity of your potential penalties. When there are multiple DWI offenses within a 10-year span, it becomes far more likely a defendant will receive a lengthy jail sentence.

Factors that determine jail time

When determining if jail time is an appropriate penalty for a DWI conviction, the judge will look at a variety of factors.
One of the major factors a judge will evaluate is the question: Is this a first offense or a repeated DWI conviction? In New York, a first-time DWI offense usually does not result in any jail time (other than the time spent in custody between the arrest and the arraignment). Although subsequent offenses do have a greater likelihood of jail time, several other factors are also considered by the courts.

One factor that plays a major role in the length of your potential jail sentence is your blood alcohol content.

When your blood alcohol content (BAC) was below .08 percent, you’ll likely be charged with a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired), which carries comparatively lighter penalties. Driving with a BAC that is greater than .08 and less than .18 percent is considered a DWI. Those who blow greater than .18 percent will be charged with Aggravated DWI, which is an even more serious crime and could lead to a higher chance of you landing in jail.

The courts look at additional factors before deciding on a possible jail sentence. These include the presence of passengers in the vehicle at the time of the offense if injuries were sustained and their severity, and if children were involved.

When is the best time to get an attorney?

A driver should immediately seek legal representation. It is important to never speak with an arresting police officer or any other officers without the presence of an attorney. In addition to protecting your rights during questioning, an attorney is able to assist with a variety of motions as well as evidence collection in a DUI case. This will help the attorney prepare better for trial. Even if the goal is to settle, an attorney can offer guidance. You will have the opportunity to make a deal with them and to decide if it is worth taking on the possibility of a trial. If you are facing DWI charges in Nassau County or Suffolk County, call criminal defense attorney Jason Bassett.

Possible Defenses to a DWI Charge

It may appear that your Long Island DWI arrest seals the deal. The prosecution may present the results of a breathalyzer and field sobriety test alongside busy roads as undisputed evidence that you drove drunk. However, there are many possible ways that both the evidence and the procedures used to arrest you for a DWI can be challenged.

A defense lawyer’s ability to deal with technical problems may be key in a successful DWI defense. Many of these issues focus on breathalyzers and their crucial role in defense. A skilled criminal defense lawyer must be experienced in identifying technical issues that the prosecution might have against you.

A defense lawyer must be able to cross-examine facts and obtain favorable verdicts for their clients. For DWI charges on Long Island, some possible questions a defense lawyer may ask include: 

  • Was the machine maintained properly?
  • Is the machine calibrated properly?
  • Did the police officer have an up-to-date license when they administered the test?
  • Is the video supporting the officer’s claim of intoxication?

Defense attorney Jason Bassett is experienced in scrutinizing claims made by the officer, exposing inconsistencies, and allowing the defendant a chance tell their story. In many cases, the most important evidence relies on a machine that calculates your blood alcohol level (BAC). But machines can be wrong for a variety of reasons. This, along with the credibility and reliability of the officer are often key factors. However, you have many other options for defense as well. Call Defense lawyer Jason Bassett today to learn more.

Hiring A Top First Time DWI Lawyer In Suffolk County

Jail time is not inevitable in a DWI conviction. A court will consider many factors before making a decision on every case. Having the right criminal defense attorney by your side can greatly reduce the chance of you serving any jail time for your first DWI offense or a subsequent offense. Anyone who is facing charges of Driving While Intoxicated of Driving Under the Influence should seek the legal advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you are faced with a DWI offense and feel anxious about potential jail time, contact Jason Bassett and his team for a free initial consultation. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (631) 259-6060 today.

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