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New York Legislature considering three bills related to drunk driving

At the beginning of the 2014, New York State Police released statistics of how many people they arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated during their stepped-up DWI enforcement over the 2013 winter holiday season. State troopers reported that they made more than 160 DWI arrests between November 1 and December 26, 2013. State legislators are currently considering three bills that would put even more drivers at risk of arrest for DWI charges. New York drivers should be aware of how the laws may change and the potential penalties they face for a conviction of these new laws.

Changing DWI accident laws

The New York Senate has already passed three bills making the state’s DWI laws stricter, and the bills are currently before the Assembly awaiting approval. The first bill pertains to those with multiple DWI convictions. The bill would make it so that if a driver who has three previous DWI convictions is involved in a crash with fatalities, the driver could be charged with vehicular homicide, rather than vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular homicide is a Class B felony, carrying a potential penalty of 35 years in prison.

The second bill deals with drivers who leave scenes of accidents without reporting them. The bill would remove drivers’ ability to claim that they were too intoxicated to realize that they left the scenes of accidents. Leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death is a felony, and leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage is a misdemeanor.

Redefining “intoxicated”

The third bill the legislature is considering would amend the definition of what qualifies as intoxication for the purposes of a DWI charge. Currently the law defines intoxication as being impaired by alcohol. The bill would change it so that the definition of intoxication would be a state of mind that prevents a driver from safely operating a vehicle, no matter the substance that caused the state. The new definition would subject those who drove while taking pain medication or illegal drugs to DWI charges.

Seek an attorney’s help

Law enforcement and lawmakers are continually targeting those who drive while intoxicated and try to make the penalties increasingly severe. DWI convictions can disrupt a person’s life entirely, leading to loss of driving privileges, fines and even potential jail time. If you are facing DWI charges, it is critical to have the assistance of a skilled DWI defense attorney defending your rights and to help minimize the impact of the charges. If you have questions about DWI charges, speak with an experienced DWI defense lawyer who can discuss your individual situation with you.