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The state legislature is currently considering three bills that would result in an increase in drunken driving arrests and drunken driving charges in New York State.

Since the start of the New Year, police across New York State have stepped up DWI enforcement resulting in an increase in DWI arrests. Now, with three bills being considered by the New York State Assembly, law enforcement officials believe that the number of DWI related arrests will continue to increase once the measures have been signed into law.

One of the bills being considered would target repeat DWI offenders. If passed, the law would reclassify a DWI resulting in a fatality as a vehicular homicide if the driver had three previous DWI convictions. That would be a class B felony carrying a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.

The second bill under consideration deals with leaving the scene of an accident. Some drivers leave the scene of an accident without reporting it to authorities because they were intoxicated. This bill would prohibit defendants from using intoxication as a defense to leaving the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident that involves personal injury or death would be a felony, while leaving the scene of an accident involving merely property damage is a misdemeanor.

The third DWI related bill being considered by the New York State Assembly involves amending the definition of “intoxication” as it relates to a DWI charge. Intoxication would be defined as a “state of mind” that prevents a driver from “safely operating a vehicle,” no matter what intoxicant is involved. In other words, if this bill passes alcohol will not be the only determining factor in a DWI charge. This would mean that any driver under the influence of pain medication and/or drugs could be subject to DWI charges.

The penalties for driving under the influence in New York State are becoming increasingly severe and anyone charged with a New York DWI charge should take the accusation seriously. The damages caused by a DWI conviction in New York State can turn the defendant’s life upside down. DWI convictions can result in a suspension or loss of one’s driver’s license, fines, and even jail time. Now, with these new bills being considered by New York State lawmakers, the possibilities of serious punishment may only increase.

If you or someone you love has been arrested for DWI, contact Robert S. Gershon to offer guidance through the difficult legal process. Rob Gershon has over twenty years combined experience in criminal law both as a former prosecutor and defense attorney.