How 'Vince's Law' makes life harder for drunk drivers

New York is one of many states that have enacted tougher drunk driving laws aimed at discouraging repeated alcohol-related driving offenses. In June of this year, the New York State Senate finally ratified "Vince's Law," which provides enhanced penalties to individuals convicted of multiple DWI offenses.

"Vince's Law" is named for an 82-year-old man from Onondega County, New York, who died in 2011 after being struck by a drunk driver. The man who was driving the vehicle had been convicted of DWI five times prior to the fatal accident. Four of those convictions occurred within 17 years of the accident.

Under the language of the bill, prosecutors are now able to look back at a person's criminal record for DWIs that have occurred within the last 15 years. Defendants who have a history of three or more DWI convictions within that 15-year time frame can now be charged with a class D felony in New York State.

Currently, a person convicted of a class D felony can receive a punishment of up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A felony conviction also carries other consequences that may not be as readily apparent. For example, if you are convicted of a felony in New York you will be ineligible to enlist in the military, and you and anyone who lives with you may be disqualified from adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

If you are a New York resident with multiple DWI convictions there are a few things you should know. Your arrest for DWI does not necessarily guarantee that the prosecution will be able to prove their case against you. For example, you have the right to challenge the reason for your initial traffic stop. You may also challenge any chemical testing done to determine your blood alcohol concentration level. Your New York criminal defense attorney can assist you with evaluating the circumstances of your case and developing a defense strategy that best suits your particular needs.

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