Since modern culture and suburban living involves spending a great deal of time in motor vehicles — commuting to work, shopping, driving to social occasions, it is no wonder that a significant proportion of crimes occur on the road. If you are accused of, or arrested for, a vehicular crime, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. In such cases, the presence of a knowledgeable attorney can make an enormous difference in the outcome of your case.
All drivers should be aware that seemingly small driving infractions, such as improper cell phone usage, can (and often do) cause life-threatening accidents, elevating your infraction to a serious criminal charge. You may face consequences you hadn’t considered: steep fines, imprisonment, loss of license, greatly elevated insurance rates, and, depending on your job, loss of employment. This is why you should be prepared to call upon one of the skilled attorneys at Barket Epstein if you do get into trouble on the road.
While simple traffic violations, like speeding or tailgating, are not usually considered either misdemeanors or felonies, there are instances, such as when you are accused of multiple violations at the same time, or when your traffic violation causes property damage or injury to another person, that your traffic violation may rise to the level of a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on its severity. These are some examples of vehicular crimes:
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Driving without a license (including with a suspended or revoked license)
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Reckless driving
- Engaging in a speed contest with another driver
Felony traffic violations include a second DWI or DUI within 10 years, ‘hit and run” offenses, and vehicular homicide.
Driving while Intoxicated (DWI)
If you are convicted of DWI in New York State you can expect to face serious penalties, such as heavy fines, possible imprisonment, license revocation, and the requirement that you install an ignition interlock device on your car.
Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License or Registration
In all probability, if you are accused of driving without proper driver’s documentation (Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, or AUO), you have been pulled over for another violation, so you are likely to be charged with more than one crime. If this is the case, you may be facing serious consequences and it is important that you retain an attorney with strong criminal defense skills.
Reckless driving is an unclassified misdemeanor in New York State. Reckless driving is punishable by fines, imprisonment and/or license suspension or revocation.
Reckless endangerment is even more serious than reckless driving since it accuses you of putting others in danger, even if that wasn’t your intent. Your actions are considered reckless if you committed them without any thought of the consequences.
If you participate in an unauthorized speed contest, planned or spontaneous, you are committing a crime that may result in steep fines, the possibility of jail time and a permanent criminal record. Often, you will be issued a ticket for speeding and reckless driving as well as a summons for engaging in a speed contest.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
In the heat of the moment, too many people panic and leave the scene of an accident without considering the consequences. In New York, the consequences for doing so can be severe.
If you have a commercial license and are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident, your license will be revoked, meaning you will be unable to work in your chosen occupation. While a license suspension is bad, a license revocation is much worse. If your license has been suspended for a certain period, you will automatically get it back. If your license is revoked, you will no longer have a “right of reinstatement,” meaning that not only you will have to pay all fees and charges again, but that the DMV may refuse to issue you a new license altogether.
If you have left the scene of an accident in which there were injuries, you may be sentenced to up to one year in prison; if there were serious injuries or a death, you may spend up to 7 years behind bars. In addition to the criminal penalties, you may find yourself the defendant in a civil lawsuit that can result in your being fined not only for compensatory damages, but for punitive damages as well.
If, in the heat of the moment, you have left the scene of an accident, it is essential that you contact our offices immediately. Our trained professionals know exactly what to say and do to defend your freedom, your finances, and your reputation.
In a worst-case scenario when you are accused of a homicide on the road, having astute legal counsel is crucial. You may, of course, be innocent of all charges — the death of the other person may not have been your fault. Still, these charges are a serious threat to the emotional and financial well-being of yourself and your family and so must be addressed promptly and vigorously. There are several defenses and negotiating tactics we can use to protect you from prosecution to plea bargain or to offer a reasonable and successful defense in a court of law.
Whatever type of vehicular crime you have been charged with, it pays to remember that you don’t have to fight for your rights and your freedom alone. The highly qualified attorneys at Barket Epstein have in-depth knowledge of which defenses will work best for you in terms of negotiating a settlement or fighting to defend you in court. We have both the focus and finesse to present your case in the best possible light. Contact us to review your case.