CRIMINAL TRAFFIC SUMMONSES
Several traffic matters can result in arrest and potential criminal prosecution. It should go without saying that these matters must be handled carefully.
Aggravated Unlicensed Operation
If you are pulled over while driving with a suspended license, you face a possible arrest for aggravated unlicensed operation (VTL 511). Most people who commit this crime have no idea that their license is suspended in the first place. Usually, this occurs due to an oversight. You get a traffic ticket, lose the summons, and forget to respond. A few weeks later, your license is suspended. DMV usually sends notifications of suspension in the mail, but if you never see that notification, you may continue driving, unaware that your license is suspended. And do not presume you can talk your way out of this -- in New York City, most police officers are under strict directions to arrest any motorist caught driving while suspended. Even if the officer wants to give you a break, he probably cannot.
If you push this matter to trial, the state will demonstrate that you were suspended, and that you knew or should have known that fact. They will further show that you operated a motor vehicle on a public road during your license suspension. An experienced traffic attorney will fight for you to dismiss or reduce the charges to something palatable that will not leave you with a criminal record.
DUI, DWI, And Driving While Impaired
The first few days after a DUI are the toughest. You may wonder if your life will ever be the same. But this trauma will pass. You are not the first person in the world to have a DUI. And you will survive. But the process will be much easier with qualified counsel.
DUI's are serious matters, and the consequences can be severe, ranging from a suspended license to jail time. The prosecutors will review video footage of you after the stop and at the station house. They will consider any statements you made to the police officers that arrested you, and your general tone and attitude during the arrest. They will review your driving before the arrest; it goes without saying that an accident or extreme recklessness will not work in your favor. And your criminal history matters; prosecutors treat a second or third DWI much harsher than a first.
Trial Or Plea Bargain
Most DUI arrests result in plea bargains. This means the defendant agrees to a lesser sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. The state gets their conviction. The defendant avoids an unduly harsh sentence.
A skilled attorney can get you a better plea bargain than you would on your own. A bad disposition can result in a license suspension or a criminal record. In some cases, an experienced attorney can get your case dismissed altogether.
You have a Constitutional right to a trial when you are charged with a crime. But a trial in a DUI case is big risk that most defendants are wise to avoid. Private counsel for a trial is expensive. A conviction is likely. And if you are convicted after a trial, the sentence will likely be much more punitive. While every case is unique, most attorneys will advise against taking your DUI to trial.
Old DWI's Can Catch Up To You
If you have three or more DUI's in a 25-year period, realize that you are walking on eggshells every time you get behind the wheel, thanks to the new and infamous Part 132.
According to Part 132, if the aforementioned driver is convicted of a "high-point driving violation," he will be subject to a permanent revocation of his New York license. A "high-point driving violation" is any traffic conviction carrying five or more points on your license -- basically, a cell phone ticket or a 21+ over the limit speed. Some motorists go to these hearings unrepresented, with no idea that in a few minutes, they could lose their driving privileges forever.
The DUI Refusal Hearing
If you refuse a breath test after your DUI arrest, your license will be automatically suspended pending a special DMV hearing called a "refusal hearing." This hearing evaluates whether the police officer had a lawful reason to stop you and arrest you, whether you were warned the consequences of that refusal, and whether you then refused the test. If you lose this hearing, your license will be revoked for one year. These hearings are completely separate from the criminal trial. The burden of proof is lower, hearsay is permissible, and the standards of evidence are relaxed. These hearings are very hard to win on your own.
In Criminal Court, You Need An Experienced Attorney by Your Side