Criminal Defense Lawyer in Albany, New York
Call James 24/7 at 1-866-642-3807

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

DWI is a Serious Offense That Requires a Serious Albany DWI Defense Attorney

When those flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror and you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DWI), your future may be flashing before your eyes as well. If you are charged with DWI in Albany, even if it is your first offense, the consequences can be severe. You can lose your driving privileges and spend months or years behind bars in addition to paying hefty fines and a lifetime of increased insurance premiums.  

Make no mistake, DWI charges are treated seriously by prosecutors who understand the harm caused by drunk drivers and who are more than happy to use you as an example of what happens when people get behind the wheel after one too many drinks. This is not an ordeal you can, should or need to face alone.

James E. Tyner: Experienced and Committed Representation in Albany and Throughout New York

James E. Tyner is a well-respected Albany DWI defense attorney who knows how to defend clients charged with alcohol and drug-related driving crimes. He has over 15 years of experience representing individuals in drunk driving cases, has a track record of success, and understands what is at stake for his clients. That is why he works tirelessly to obtain the best possible outcome for every DWI client he has the privilege to represent.

Understanding Your DWI Charges

Albany and New York State laws against driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not only strict — they are also complex. One of the many important reasons to contact our legal team is to make certain you understand the charge against you and the consequences it carries.

You may recently have been arrested and charged with:

  • A misdemeanor DWI (driving while intoxicated) — for blood alcohol content (BAC) between .08 and .17 percent
  • DWAI for “driving while ability impaired” (driving with a BAC of .05 to .07 or while impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol)
  • Aggravated DWI, if tests showed you had a blood alcohol content over .18 percent, or felony DWI, if you had a prior, similar offense in the past 10 years
  • Vehicular assault or homicide, if you were involved in an accident causing injuries or a fatality

The presence of illegal or prescription drugs in your system can also result in any of these charges. James E. Tyner, offers straightforward information and informed counsel regardless of which charge you face.

Of these charges — all serious in many respects — those with the least extreme consequences are DWAI and misdemeanor DWI. In fact, there is sometimes an opportunity to negotiate with prosecutors for a reduction of a misdemeanor DWI to the lesser offense of DWAI, which is not a criminal conviction.

Police Make Mistakes Which Can Be Key to Your Defense

If you have been charged with an Albany DWI and a blood, breath, or chemical test showed that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was above the legal limit of 0.08%, you may think that your case is hopeless. Nothing could be further from the truth.

From the minute you are pulled over, you have rights and the police have many opportunities to violate those rights or make errors that could be the key to your defense. In many situations, we are able to quickly identify mistakes and improper procedures on the part of law enforcement that can lead to a reduction or complete dismissal of the charges.

Common examples of police mistakes that can result in the exclusion of evidence and increase the chances of an acquittal or dismissal of DWI charges include:

  • Illegal stop. Police officers need a lawful reason to pull you over, such as a traffic violation or driving that creates a reasonable suspicion that you may be intoxicated or impaired. If an officer pulls you over without a lawful reason, your attorney can argue that any evidence obtained after the illegal stop – such as field sobriety or breath test results – were improperly obtained and should be excluded from evidence.
  • Illegal arrest. Once the officer has completed his or her purpose for the stop, he or she can't legally continue to detain you unless the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have engaged in additional criminal activity, such as driving under the influence.
  • Improperly administered field sobriety tests. The officer may have asked you to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs) to evaluate whether you are impaired. These tests are highly subjective and unreliable. Your lawyer can challenge the ways the officer conducted the FSTs and interpreted the results.
  • Inaccurate or incorrect breath testing. Breathalyzers and other devices used to test BAC, especially those used during a traffic stop, are notoriously unreliable and often inaccurate. If such devices are improperly calibrated or maintained, they can produce false results, and external factors, the way the device is used and the failure to follow proper procedures can also call into question the admissibility of those results.

A skilled Albany DWI attorney can hold police accountable for such errors and use them to your advantage to get evidence excluded and charges dismissed. Without admissible evidence, prosecutors won’t have a leg to stand on.

New York Imposes Harsh First-Time DWI Penalties

A first-time DWI is a misdemeanor criminal offense, but don’t let the word “misdemeanor” lead you into thinking that you can walk away with a slap on the wrist. New York DWI penalties, even for your first offense, can be severe.

A first-time DWI conviction can cost you fines of between $500-$1,000, a license revocation for at least six months, and result in a sentence of up to a year in jail. If you agreed to a breathalyzer or other chemical test after your arrest, you may be able to obtain a conditional license that will allow you to drive to and from work, school, and other essential appointments, but your right to drive will remain severely restricted.

Recent changes to New York law mean that even a first-time DWI will require that the offender install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle that they own or use, usually for a minimum of one year. Not only are such devices inconvenient, they are also expensive, and the hundreds or thousands of dollars in costs for purchasing, installing, and maintaining the IID falls squarely on the shoulders of the driver.

License Suspension and Revocation

A DWI arrest can result in one of two general limitations on your license and right to drive: suspension or revocation.

  • Suspension: Your license, permit, or privilege to drive is taken away for a set period before it is returned.
  • Revocation: Your license, permit, or privilege to drive is voided; it no longer exists. To get a new license or permit, or to restore your privileges, you will need to re-apply to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) once the revocation period is over.

Suspension Upon Arrest

Under some circumstances, a person charged with DWI in Albany can have his or her license suspended even before being convicted of any crime under New York’s “prompt suspension” law. A judge will review test results and other documents purporting to show that the defendant’s BAC was above the legal limit and will immediately suspend the driver’s license and take away their ability to drive if he or she finds that the evidence is legally sufficient to show your intoxication.

At such suspension hearings, prosecutors do not need to show the level of evidence needed to obtain a criminal conviction, meaning that the deck is stacked against defendants at these hearings. If you value your right to stay on the road, you will want an attorney on your side for your suspension hearing so they can challenge the prosecution’s evidence and make the strongest possible argument as to why you should be able to retain your license while your case proceeds.

Additionally, New York law provides that an individual who refuses to submit to a chemical test may be subject to a separate hearing that can result in a license revocation for one year.

License Suspension/Revocation Upon Conviction

The following are typical license suspension/revocation consequences upon conviction for various DWI/DWAI offenses in New York:

  • Aggravated DWI (.18% BAC): 1-year revocation
  • DWI: 6-month revocation
  • DWAI - Drug: 6-month suspension
  • DWI or DWAI - Drug committed within 10 years of any previous violation: 1-year revocation
  • DWAI - Alcohol (DWAI): 90-day suspension
  • DWAI committed within 5 years of any previous alcohol or drug-related violation: 6-month revocation

DWI Convictions Follow You For Life

Beyond the harsh criminal punishments, if you are convicted of a DWI, you will have a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. Your criminal record can prevent you from gaining employment, obtaining certain professional licenses and even securing housing or a loan.

Skilled and Strategic Defense Against All Driving While Intoxicated Charges

Our Albany DWI law firm provides skilled and proactive defense against all New York DWI charges. We have extensive experience representing drivers in drunk driving cases, including cases involving:

Over 15 Years of Experience in DWI Investigations, Arrests and Trials

Knowing the lifetime of consequences that can follow a DWI conviction and understanding how scary and unsettling it can be for people facing such consequences, we treat every DWI case with the utmost seriousness and commitment. We will provide you with focused, skilled and aggressive representation every step of the way. We will carefully examine your case from every angle to identify the best available defense strategies.

James E. Tyner is a DWI defense attorney in Albany with over 15 years of experience, delivering comprehensive and aggressive criminal defense representation. Our firm represents clients in serious criminal cases, including DWI matters. Criminal defense is all we do. We are a strong and trusted legal team offering unmatched service and proven results to our clients and have earned a reputation for unmatched preparation and determined advocacy.

We’re Here for You 24 Hours a Day

DWI arrests don’t keep business hours and neither do we. When you are facing DWI charges, you will have lots of questions and concerns. Those questions may keep you up at night and when they do, we are here to provide you answers, reassurance and peace of mind.

We are available to return calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We pride ourselves on our responsiveness and strive to return all calls within an hour. We regularly speak with clients after hours, late at night and on the weekends. We have even spoken to clients on Christmas Day at dinner time.

We make ourselves this accessible and available because we know that individuals facing DWI charges in Albany need more than just an exceptional courtroom advocate -- they also need a steadfast ally who be there for them day and night, where and when they need them.

Your Freedom, Future and Reputation are at Stake. We Can Help

We firmly believe that everyone facing DWI charges deserves a high-level defense no matter their resources or budget. We strive to reach arrangements that allow individuals charged with criminal offenses to retain our services. We know that there are no do-overs in criminal defense. Who you hire as your DWI lawyer is the most important decision that you can make in your case. Make sure you choose wisely. If you or a loved one is facing Albany DWI charges, contact the Law Office of James E. Tyner today to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.

The Facts Are Key in DWI Defense

We never take DWI charges at face value, and we will completely examine every aspect of your case. We will determine whether the stop had probable cause. We will scrutinize the work of the officer who pulled you over. Did the officer follow proper training? Were the field tests administered correctly and in the correct order?

If a police officer was not trained correctly, if the tests were not administered according to guidelines, if the Breathalyzer was not calibrated properly, you may have a strong defense. We have studied the teaching manuals for New York State Police officers regarding DWI stops and we can determine whether they have given the DWI tests correctly.

The results of a prescreen test (PST) are so consistently inaccurate that they are inadmissible in court. We ensure that the guidelines for use of the Breathalyzer and the 20-minute observation test are followed. We can scientifically question the accuracy of the simulator alcohol solution. We will determine whether the persons administering the tests were properly certified. If you are given a blood test, we examine all aspects of the test, such as how the blood was drawn, what time the blood was drawn and whether the blood kit tests had the proper chemicals. We know that details matter, and a small detail can have a large impact on your case.

DWI Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of questions that people frequently ask when they are arrested for DWI. For many people, a DWI offense is their first exposure to the criminal justice system. The Law Office of James E. Tyner understands just how scary an arrest can be and is committed to providing you with the information you need to make the right decisions in your case.

What should I do if I am stopped on suspicion of DWI?

If you are stopped by a police officer who suspects that you are intoxicated, it is imperative that you remain calm. While being stopped by police for any reason can be stressful, the best thing you can do is to 1) take a deep breath, 2) cooperate, and 3) avoid acting in any manner that can lead the officer into thinking you truly are inebriated.

The moment you are asked to pull over, turn off your radio, find a safe area for you to park your vehicle, and roll down your window. When the officer approaches your car, present them with your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Be polite when speaking to the officer, as this can help mitigate the situation. Do not exit your vehicle unless you are specifically asked to do so by the officer. It may be tempting to try to appease the situation by acting quickly, but slow and steady actions will benefit you far more than aggressive attempts can make things far worse for you.

Should I tell the police I had any drinks?

Whether you are being arrested or not, you always have the right to remain silent, as anything you say can and more likely than not, WILL be used against you. Remaining silent is MUCH better than admitting to anything, as an affirmation of alcohol consumption will almost always result in an arrest.

You also have a right to refuse any tests that can determine intoxication as well as a search of your vehicle. Inform the officer in a polite manner that you would like to speak to your attorney before agreeing to any alcohol testing. If the officer attempts to remove you from your vehicle by force or acts in any violent manner, inform them that you also wish to contact 911 to report the situation and request additional officers on the scene. Let the officer know that you will be reaching for your phone and give them a play-by-play on every action you attempt to take. Any sudden movements can lead to more aggressive – or even deadly – force.

What are field sobriety tests?

Aside from a BAC test (breathalyzer device), there are several methods that police officers in Albany use to determine whether a driver is intoxicated. These can include a number of field sobriety tests. You may be asked to walk in a straight line, follow a moving light or finger, stand on one leg, count backward from any series of numbers, recite the alphabet (forward or backward), or a slew of other strategies to test your balance, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination.

However, field sobriety tests are NOT an accurate method of proving intoxication. While a judge may consider police testimony, any experienced Albany DWI defense lawyer can tell you that without actual scientific evidence, these “tests” cannot be considered definitive proof of intoxication. The sheer fact that you are already nervous after being stopped can contribute to erratic movements, gestures, cold sweats, and even stuttering. Unless you agreed to a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test, a field sobriety test alone cannot accurately determine if an individual is, in fact, intoxicated.

What types of chemical tests can police administer to determine if you are intoxicated?

To determine blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, police most commonly use a breathalyzer test. However, in certain circumstances, drivers may be asked to submit to blood and/or urine analysis. Keep in mind that while you have a right to refuse any chemical testing to determine your intoxication level, failing to cooperate may also lead to other consequences, such as driver’s license suspension. Fortunately, a DWI attorney can assist you with these matters. Your lawyer will determine if you were under any form of duress when you were pulled over, whether you were on any medication that may have contributed to your actions (which can also serve as a viable defense if a field sobriety test was administered), among other strategies.

Can you be arrested for having an open container or bottle in the car?

Yes, it is against the law to drive with an open container in the state of New York, as well as having an open container in a public place – even if you are merely walking down the street. It is also against the law for passengers to consume alcohol, regardless of whether the actual driver is drinking. Moreover, you can also face charges if you have an open container in a parked vehicle or if the container or bottle is in your trunk.

There are times when people are offered opened bottles to take home after a party or even after spending time at a loved one’s house. Although you may just have been transporting a half-consumed bottle of liquor back home without having taken a sip, this may lead an officer to suspect you are driving under the influence. So, what do you do in this situation if an officer discovers an opened container?

While you have a right to refuse chemical or field sobriety tests, this is one instance in which agreeing to any type of standardized intoxication test can actually benefit you. If you have not been drinking but have an opened container or bottle in your car (especially if it’s in your trunk) and are stopped by police under suspicion of DWI, request that the officer perform a chemical and field sobriety test. This will prove that you are neither intoxicated nor have consumed any amounts of alcohol.

Can bicyclists get charged with DWI?

Actually, no! If you are riding a bicycle in New York and have consumed alcohol – or even if your blood alcohol level is over .08%, you will not be formally charged with DWI. According to state law, a DWI arrest only applies to persons operating a motor vehicle. 

That being said, you may be charged with another type of infraction. Bicyclists may face charges for public intoxication, disturbing the peace, or public endangerment, and may be placed under arrest. While these infractions may not be as severe as a driving while under the influence charge, a DWI defense attorney in Albany can still assist anyone who has been arrested for alcohol-related offenses. 

I have been charged with a DWI. Do I really need an attorney?

Yes. While you may think that driving while intoxicated is just a minor traffic offense, a DWI conviction is a serious matter. You can lose your driving privileges, face substantial fines and even run the risk of time in jail. In addition to the fines and penalties, you will have a permanent criminal record that can prevent you from finding employment, getting certain professional licenses and obtaining a loan or housing. With so much on the line, you need to be represented by a reputable Albany DWI lawyer who knows how to handle these types of legal matters.

What types of penalties will I face if I am convicted of a DWI?

The penalties for a DWI in Albany and elsewhere in NY are harsh and will depend upon the specific circumstances of your case. For instance, if you are convicted of an Aggravated DWI (driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.18 percent or higher) the minimum mandatory penalty is $1,000 fine and can be as high as $2,500, and you could face up to one year in jail. If you have had any prior DWI convictions within the past 10 years, the consequences will be even more severe.  In addition to fines and surcharges and a mandatory license revocation, New York State laws mandate the installation of an ignition interlock device for drivers who are convicted of certain DWI offenses.

I was arrested for refusing to take a chemical alcohol test. What should I do?

The best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. While a conviction for a chemical test refusal can result in a one-year driver’s license revocation and an assessment fee by the Department of Motor Vehicles, you have the right to a hearing to dispute the allegations of a refusal.

When you retain The Law Office of James E. Tyner, I will thoroughly investigate your case to determine whether the police followed proper procedures, including having probable cause to ask you to submit to the test and warning you that if you refused testing, your driver’s license would be revoked.

My child is 17 and was charged with underage DWI. What are the possible consequences?

Albany and all cities in New York have a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers who drink and drive. The zero-tolerance law applies to a person under age 21 who operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .02% or more but not more than .07%.

If your child is a minor under the legal drinking age of 21, he or she may face harsher consequences than an adult upon arrest and conviction for DWI. For instance, it is common for teenagers convicted of drinking and driving to have their licenses revoked until they turn 21. In addition, a DWI conviction will result in a criminal record, which can seriously impact your child’s academic career and ability to obtain employment. If your child has been charged with underage DWI, you should seek the advice of an experienced lawyer who focuses on driving while intoxicated cases who will explain your options and fight to protect your child’s legal rights.

Discuss Your DWI Defense Options With an Experienced Attorney Today

If you have been charged with DWI, you can’t afford to go it alone. A conviction for Driving While Intoxicated comes with harsh consequences, including substantial monetary fines and the possibility of spending significant time in jail. You need to talk with a skilled Albany DWI defense lawyer who will explain the law and work with you to develop a solid defense strategy.

We know DWI law, but just as important, we know how prosecutors work and how to counter the tactics they use to obtain drunk driving convictions. Contact the Law Office of James E. Tyner today to schedule a free, confidential initial consultation by calling 866-642-3807 or email us directly. Together, we can fight for your future, keep you out of jail and keep you on the road.

Hear What Our Clients Have To Say

Highly recommended. Expert legal services, excellent communication, optimum results.