The James Firm, PLLC

DUI/DWI Vehicular Crimes

What is DWI?
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a crime. In NYS, the penalties include the loss of driving privileges, fines, and a possible jail term.

Your judgment, coordination and ability to drive a vehicle change when you consume any amount of alcohol. The level of impairment depends on five conditions:

  1. The amount of alcohol you drink,

  2. The amount of food you eat before or while you drink alcohol,

  3. The length of time you drink alcohol,

  4. Your body weight, and

  5. Your gender.

There is no quick method to become sober. The best method is to wait until your body absorbs the alcohol. The average rate that your body processes alcohol is approximately one drink per hour.
What are the alcohol and drug-related violations in New York State?

BAC = blood alcohol concentration

  • DWI:  Driving While Intoxicated; .08 BAC or higher or other evidence of intoxication. For drivers of commercial motor vehicles, .04 BAC or other evidence of intoxication.
  • Aggravated DWI: Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated: .18 BAC or higher.
  • DWAI/Alcohol:  Driving While Ability Impaired (by alcohol); more than .05 BAC to .07 BAC, or other evidence of impairment. For drivers of commercial motor vehicles who are under age 21, .02 BAC or other evidence of impairment.
  • DWAI/Drug:  Driving While Ability Impaired by a single Drug other than alcohol.
  • DWAI/Combination:  Driving While Ability Impaired by a Combined Influence of Drugs or Alcohol.
  • Chemical Test Refusal:  A driver who refuses to take a chemical test (normally a test of breath, blood or urine) can receive a driver license revocation of at least one year (18 months for a commercial driver) and must pay a $500 civil penalty ($550 for a driver of commercial vehicles) to apply for a new driver license. A driver who refuses a chemical test during the five years after a DWI-related charge or previous refusal will have their driver license revoked for at least 18 months (permanent for a commercial driver) and must pay a $750 civil penalty to apply for a new driver license. If the driver is under age 21, and refuses a chemical test during the five years after a DWI-related charge or previous refusal, they will have their driver license revoked for at least one year or until age 21, whichever is longer and must pay a $750 civil penalty to apply for a new driver license.
  • Zero Tolerance Law: A driver who is less than 21 years of age and who drives with a .02 BAC to .07 BAC violates the Zero Tolerance Law.
Can I get a conditional license if I was convicted of DWI or DWAI?
If you receive your first conviction for DWI or DWAI and you participate in the Drinking Driver Program (DDP), you can receive a conditional license. The DMV determines if you are eligible for the DDP. A judge can stop your enrollment in the DDP. To get complete information read the DMV brochure, The Drinking Driver Program (PDF document).

The law mandates participation in the DDP, even if the driver is not eligible for a conditional license, for convictions of specific alcohol or drug-related violations, or in specific plea-bargaining situations.

See the DMV brochure, You and the Drinking Driving Laws, for more information about DWI (PDF document).

See a complete list of NYS approved DDP programs available in PDF format.
What is the Driver Responsibility Program? What is a driver responsibility assessment?
To get information about driver responsibility assessments and the Driver Responsibility Program, read the FAQs.
What is 'Leandra's Law'
Leandra's Law was signed into law on November 18, 2009 in honor of Leandra Rosado. Leandra was an 11-year old killed while she rode in a vehicle with the intoxicated mother of one of her friends. In response to this tragedy, the NYS Legislature made several changes to the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL). The law strengthened the penalties against motorists who drink and drive, and requires that:
A person sentenced for Driving While Intoxicated on or after August 15, 2010 have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle they own or operate, and the driver have an "ignition interlock" restriction added to their driver license.

See additional information about Leandra's Law at the NYS Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Alcohol, Drugs and DWI page.
What are the different parts of Leandra's Law and what are the penalties for conviction?
Leandra's Law includes the following provisions:

"Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle."  The law establishes this new Class E Felony. The law states that no person shall operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs while a child who is 15 years of age or younger is a passenger in the vehicle.

Ignition Interlock Requirement.  A court must sentence a person convicted of either Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle or Aggravated DWI/Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .18 or More to a period of probation or to a conditional discharge. The court must require the installation and use of an ignition interlock device in any motor vehicle owned or operated by a person convicted under this law. The ignition interlock device must remain in the vehicle for at least 12 months.

Driving While Intoxicated.  A court that sentences a person for a Driving While Intoxicated conviction on or after August 15, 2010 must impose a conditional discharge or probation. A condition of the sentence must be the installation and use of an ignition interlock device in any motor vehicle the person owns or operates. The ignition interlock device must remain in the vehicle for at least 12 months.
What is an 'Ignition Interlock Device'?
An ignition interlock device connects to a motor vehicle ignition system and measures the alcohol content in the breath of the operator. The device prevents the vehicle from being started until the motorist provides an acceptable breath sample.

If ignition interlock is ordered by a court, the system must be installed on each vehicle the motorist owns or operates. The device must remain installed for at least 12 months. The ignition interlock restriction will be added to the driver license record even if the license is revoked. The restriction will appear on the back of the driver license document as "interlock device".

Courts and probation departments will direct convicted motorists to vendors for ignition interlock installation. The website of the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives.

New York State Penal Law 

New York Felony Sentences
*Not applicable to drug or sex offenses--To use the chart below, follow these instructions:

  1. First, determine the classification of the crime you are charged with (A, B, C, etc.),

  2. Second, determine whether or not it is a “violent” offense,

  3. Third, determine whether you have any prior felony convictions, and whether they were violent,

Then, refer at the appropriate chart below:





Narcotics Sentencing Guidelines
If you are charged with, suspected of or think that you are under investigation for a narcotic offense in New York, contact THE JAMES FIRM, PLLC immediately. Over the past few years the "Rockefeller Drug Laws" have changed considerably. Whether you or a loved one is charged with possessing or selling cocaine, crack-cocaine, heroin or any other controlled substance, the following sentencing guidelines are likely applicable: Click Here to Read.
Offenses Involving Marihuana
Click here to read NYS penal law and sentencing guidelines for offenses involving marihuana.
Sex Crimes
Sex offender convictions are undoubtedly the most vilified of all offenses. Some say those convicted of sex offenses, particularly those involving children, are not only maligned by society but are outcasts among fellow prisoners.

This stigma is unlikely to change. As a result, persons charged with or accused of sex offenses must seek the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Sex offense convictions subject the accused to registration with and monitoring by the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

There are limitations on where you can live and work. THE JAMES FIRM, PLLC aggressively defends the rights of persons wrongly accused of sex offenses. Contact THE JAMES FIRM, PLLC if you or a loved one has been accused of or charged with a sex offence in New York.
White Collar Offenses
The term White Collar crime inspires images of large scale Ponzi schemes and Wall Street fat cats. However, White Collar crimes are often committed by professionals with fiduciary responsibilities or average citizens.

These offenses cover an array of behavior that share several characteristics in that in each circumstance the accused is a person with a fiduciary obligation , who exploits their position to illegally obtain money from a person or persons who have relied on them. For example, a stock broker who takes money from clients to buy stock and instead keeps the money. Or a mortgage broker who falsifies employment records of potential homeowners in order to secure a mortgage.

White Collar Crimes are complex. They require a significant time commitment and a keen eye to detect where the inconsistencies are in the paper trail created by the accused. It is not uncommon for a white collar investigation to last years. Such extensive investigations result in prolonged and paper intensive discovery, motion and trial practice.

THE JAMES FIRM, PLLC has the experience needed to review and evaluate the weight of the evidence in order to provide our clients an objective assessment of the likelihood of success after trial. If you believe that you are under investigation for a white collar crime, contact THE JAMES FIRM, PLLC immediately to learn, protect and preserve your rights.
Cyber Crime
The advent of social media has brought with it the an even greater surge of cybercrime. This is an ever evolving area of Federal and State criminal law. As our society transitions from paper based to virtual, cybercrimes become a priority for the authorities. Contact THE JAMES FIRM, PLLC immediately to see how we can help if you or a loved one are suspected of or charged with a cybercrime.
Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence crimes are those involving persons who share a familial relationship. Crimes involving spouses, siblings, parent-child, domestic partners, boyfriend-girlfriend or persons who have a child in common are all handled by designated courtrooms, prosecutors and Judges. The purpose of the specialized courtrooms is to ensure that Domestic Violence cases are handled in a way that is mindful of the power and control element in the relationship between the parties.
LaToya R.A. James, Managing Attorney at The James Firm, PLLC, has years of experience as a prosecutor of Domestic Violence cases. She has a wealth knowledge regarding obtaining and vacating Orders of Protections, Child Protective Service investigations, treatment options and plea negotiations. LaToya, has negotiated hundreds of pleas in Domestic Violence cases and taken many to trial. Ms. James is aware that Domestic Violence charges can result from misunderstandings and impetuous reactions to emotionally charged familial situations. She will personally work with you to devise a negotiating and, if necessary, a trial strategy.

Contact THE JAMES FIRM, PLLC today to learn, protect and preserve your rights, if you have been accused of or charged with a Domestic Violence crime.