If you’re facing a DWI charge in New York, you’re probably wondering whether a conviction will show up on your criminal record. In New York, criminal records are public under the state’s “Freedom of Information” law. That means a conviction could follow you for years.
Unfortunately, DWI is considered a crime in the state of New York. So if someone were to run a NY Criminal History Report on you, they’d find any DWI convictions on your record. New York does not have expungements. There are some scenarios in which you could obtain a sealing but that is difficult and rare.
But this doesn’t mean you should give up. A good defense can get your DWI case dismissed or mitigate the DWI charge to a lesser, non-criminal resolution.
For example, a first-time DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) is a lesser, non-criminal violation compared to a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) criminal conviction. So if you’re facing your first DWI, a strong defense can help you avoid getting a criminal record.
It’s important to get started with a New York DWI attorney as soon as possible for the best chance at challenging the state’s evidence against you and successfully defending yourself.
The Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony DWI in NY
Usually, a first-time New York DWI qualifies as a misdemeanor, which is a less serious offense compared to a felony. Still, both misdemeanors and felonies show up on your criminal record.
Felonies come with greater fines and longer prison sentences compared to misdemeanors. A misdemeanor will usually send you to county jail while a felony can send you to state prison.
In New York, the state will charge you with a felony DWI if:
- You’re facing your second or subsequent DWI conviction in the last ten years, or
- The circumstances of your first conviction rise to the level of a felony – for example, you’re charged with DWI with a child in the car.
Felonies also have varying levels of severity based on the seriousness of the charge you’re facing. So a Class D felony comes with greater punishments than a Class E felony.
All of this means that not all DWI convictions are the same – some can have much worse consequences than others. And just because you get charged with a certain type of DWI does not mean that you’re out of options, either. Depending on the mitigating factors in your case, a good DWI attorney can help you get the charges against you reduced to a lesser offense – either a misdemeanor or a DWAI violation instead of a criminal offense.
The sooner you get started on your defense, the better you can strategize with your lawyer to review the prosecutor’s case against you and fight for the best possible outcome.
Does New York Expunge DWI Criminal Records?
In many states, criminal convictions automatically get removed from your record after a certain amount of time has passed. But New York criminal convictions are permanent.
Unlike other states, New York state criminal records do not automatically get expunged or removed after a certain period of time. Instead, you must take extra steps to have your records sealed from the public and you can only do so after 10 years.
The only way to “remove” a DWI conviction from your criminal record in New York is to wait 10 years and then petition the courts to “seal” it. Once your conviction has been sealed, it will no longer be available to the public or appear in a background check.
To successfully petition a New York court to seal your DWI conviction, you must have no more than 2 misdemeanors or no more than 1 felony and 1 misdemeanor and be crime-free for 10 years. That means even if it’s been 10 years since your DWI conviction, you may not be able to seal it if you have had other criminal convictions since then. If your DWI conviction is drug-related, you may have to complete a drug treatment program before your conviction can be sealed.
While you can petition a court to seal your DWI conviction from your criminal record after 10 years, the process requires additional court fees and help from a lawyer. And even if you petition the court to seal your conviction, your success is not guaranteed.
As a result, you want to be proactive with your DWI defense. Even if it’s your first DWI charge, you don’t want to simply accept the conviction without a fight because that could hurt you down the line – for example, if you find yourself facing a second charge later.
The best course of action you can take after a DWI is to talk to a lawyer about minimizing the charges against you as much as possible before the conviction goes on your record.
How Can You Reduce a DUI in New York?
Every DWI case is different. The only way to know the best defense in your case is to talk to a New York DWI attorney about your specific circumstances.
Depending on the facts of your situation, your lawyer can argue a complete defense to dismiss your case or a partial defense to mitigate or reduce your charges.
To best defend you, your DWI lawyer may argue that:
- You weren’t properly read your Miranda rights during your arrest
- Police officers failed to inform you of the penalties of refusing a chemical test
- There was never any probable cause for your traffic stop
- Witness accounts describe your condition different than the arresting officer
- You have a medical condition that could have mimicked the warning signs of a DWI
- The breathalyzer or chemical test malfunctioned or was improperly maintained
Your lawyer can also identify and investigate the weak points in the prosecution’s case. The evidence against you may not actually be as strong as it may seem.
This is why you should always speak with a local DWI attorney before accepting a plea deal. Without good legal representation, you could end up leaving your rights on the table and agreeing to much harsher penalties than necessary.Schedule a no-risk case consultation now with the exceptional DWI lawyers at The Kugel Law Firm. You can reach us at our New York offices at (212) 372-7218.