Buffalo, NY DUI Charges: Understanding Your Options and Legal Rights
Buffalo, NY DUI Charges: Understanding Your Options and Legal Rights
Getting arrested for DUI can be really scary. The police put you in handcuffs, take your license, and tow your car. Then you have to go to jail and get bailed out. It’s an awful experience! But there are things you can do to protect yourself and your rights. This article will explain the basics of New York DUI law and your options after an arrest in Buffalo.
What happens after a DUI arrest?
In New York, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If a cop pulls you over and thinks your drunk, they’ll make you do sobriety tests like walking a straight line and standing on one foot. If you fail, they arrest you and take you to jail. At the station, they’ll either do a breath test with a machine called a breathalyzer to measure your BAC, or take your blood and test it. Refusing tests can also get you in trouble.
After booking, you’ll see a judge who sets bail – probably $500-$1000 for a first offense. To get out of jail, you pay the bail bondsman 10% of that. So like $50-$100. Then they let you out until your court date.
Getting Your Car Back
After a DUI arrest in Buffalo, the police tow and impound your car. You have to pay fees to the tow company to get it back. Fees are usually $100-$200 for the tow, plus $20-$50 per day for storage. So if your car sits there a week before you can get it, you might owe $500 or more!
You’ll also need to get an impound release from the police department. Make sure to get your license plates too. The tow yard won’t release the car without the plates.
Suspending Your License
The police confiscate your driver’s license after a DUI arrest. Technically it’s only suspended for 1 week, but they keep it longer while the DMV reviews your case. You can pay a fee and apply for a temporary permit to drive during this time.
For a first offense DUI with no injuries or accidents, your license will get suspended for 90 days minimum. With a breath test refusal, it’s a full year suspension. That really sucks when you need to drive to work!
Getting an Attorney
After getting arrested, your first call should be to a DUI lawyer. An experienced attorney knows how to fight the charges and get a better outcome. Maybe they can plea bargain it down to a lesser offense, or even get the case dismissed on a technicality.
Good lawyers aren’t cheap – expect to pay $1000-$5000 for representation on a DUI. But it’s worth it to avoid jail time, save your license, and reduce fines. A conviction stays on your record forever, so don’t take these charges lightly.
Your attorney will investigate the circumstances of your arrest to look for weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. Some possible defenses include:
- You weren’t actually impaired – the tests are subjective
- The traffic stop was illegal – no probable cause
- Errors in administering breath/blood tests
- You were under 0.08% BAC – the legal limit
- The breathalyzer machine wasn’t calibrated right
A good DUI lawyer knows how to challenge the validity of tests and procedures. Getting evidence thrown out can destroy the prosecution’s case.
Many DUI cases end up plea bargaining rather than going to trial. Your attorney negotiates with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser offense. For example, pleading to reckless driving instead of DUI. This avoids the worst penalties of a DUI conviction.
The prosecutor might agree to reduce the charges if:
- It’s your first offense
- You had a low BAC
- There was no accident
- You complete alcohol counseling classes
Plea deals often involve fines, probation, and license suspension – but less than a DUI conviction.
Going to Trial
If no plea agreement can be reached, your case goes to trial. The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You were operating a motor vehicle
- On a public road or highway
- While impaired by alcohol or drugs
Challenging any of these elements can beat the charges. It’s also on video from the dashcam, and the defense can scrutinize if you looked impaired on the tape.
If convicted at trial, expect big fines, license revocation, probation, and even jail time. That’s why plea deals are preferable if possible.
Refusing a Breath Test
You face additional penalties for refusing to submit to a breath or blood test after getting pulled over. This triggers an automatic 1-year license suspension in New York.
At the police station, the cops try to get you to blow into the breathalyzer. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. But refusing the test looks bad to the judge.
That said, blowing over the limit is also bad evidence. So your lawyer might recommend refusing the test, taking the 1-year suspension, and fighting the DUI charges without the failed breath result.
Hardship and Conditional Licenses
After your license gets suspended for DUI, you can apply for a conditional or hardship license. This allows restricted driving privileges, like for work or school. But you have to prove the suspension causes an undue hardship in your life.
Installing an ignition interlock device is usually required too. This breathalyzer connects to your vehicle ignition system. You have to blow clean before it lets you start the car.
If you need to drive for your job or family responsibilities, talk to your lawyer about hardship license options. Don’t just drive on a suspended license – that leads to big fines and jail time.
The Cost of a DUI Conviction
A DUI conviction costs you way more than attorney fees and fines. It can damage your career, insurance rates, and personal relationships. Here are some common consequences:
- License suspension – 90 days up to 1 year
- Fines and court fees – $500-$1000+
- Higher insurance rates for years – potentially thousands of dollars extra
- Probation – 6 months to 3 years
- Jail time – up to 1 year
- Ignition interlock device – $70-$150 install fee plus monthly rental
- DUI classes – $750 or more
- Lost work opportunities
- Social stigma
And a DUI stays on your criminal record forever. That could hurt job background checks, school applications, travel visas, and more. Just a first offense has huge lifelong consequences.
After a DUI arrest, don’t go through it alone. Hire an experienced attorney to protect your rights. Check reviews and ask about their DUI trial record. This is no time to cheap out on legal fees.
Also consider getting assessed for alcohol abuse problems. Be honest with yourself. If drinking is hurting your life, seek counseling and support groups. Your lawyer can recommend treatment programs that look good to the court.
Dealing with DUI charges is scary and overwhelming. But taking positive steps helps you get through it. Learn from your mistakes and make better choices moving forward. This can be a turning point to improve your health and relationships. What matters most is learning and growing from the experience.