In the state of New York, we are seeing some interesting trends emerging over the last few years, with relation to DWI cases. Normally, sentences for a first DWI include a mandatory fine, with a $500 minimum and a $1000 maximum; jail time of up to one year; and having your driver’s license revoked for at least six months.
We’re definitely seeing that judges and the laws in general are becoming harder on DWI cases. In 2009, Leandra’s Law went into effect. Leandra’s Law made it a felony to drive while intoxicated with anyone under 16 in the vehicle with you, and required installation of an Ignition Interlock Device upon conviction of DWI. The law was tightened up in November of 2013, allowing the installation of the Ignition Interlock Device before sentencing, setting a minimum sentence of six months, and making it a felony to drive with a conditional license.
The state of New York also passed a law allowing the DMV to review all records when drivers apply to have their license reinstated after a revocation. This law means that if a driver has had five alcohol or drug related driving offenses in their lifetime, their application for reinstatement can be denied. The law also applies if someone has three or more alcohol or drug related driving offenses in twenty-five years.
Being convicted of DWI doesn’t just mean that your license can be revoked. DWI convictions include a mandatory fine, with $500 being the minimum. Most first time convictions carried only the minimum fine, but the costs of DWI can be staggering, over the long haul, if you take into consideration the fine, increase in insurance rates, cost of IID installation, and possible job loss.
Evidence of toughening laws in New York State can clearly be seen in the passage of S750, which required jail time for repeat DWI offenders. While New York State law states that a first conviction for DWI can result in up to one year’s jail time, that rarely happens. Even with second offenders, until May of 2013, jail time was not a requirement. S750 changed that law.
In New York, there is a huge push by MADD and other lobbying groups to raise awareness of the issues surrounding DWI. In 2012, 30% of all fatal vehicle accidents involved alcohol. It is statistics such as these that these groups use to justify their desire for stiffer DWI sentencing. Within the next few years, sentences are only going to get more harsh.