The arrest and subsequent plea of a former NHL player on DWI charges prompts a look at New York’s tough DWI laws and how an experienced criminal defense attorney can help those accused of DWI build successful cases.
Former NHL player and ESPN hockey analyst Matthew Barnaby pled guilty to driving while under the influence of alcohol, refusing a breath test, failing to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of a change in address and driving with unsafe tires.
According to ESPN, Barnaby was visibly shaken as he made his plea and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, alcohol abuse counseling and paying nearly $2,000 in fines. Barnaby was arrested and had his license revoked after failing a field sobriety test and refusing to take a breath or other chemical test. The arresting officer noticed that a front tire on Barnaby’s Porsche Cheyenne was missing, which caused sparks to fly as he drove down the road. ESPN fired Barnaby less than 24 hours from the time of his arrest.
By pleading guilty, Barnaby avoided jail time which would have made the Canadian native a candidate for deportation after he served his sentence. In his statement, Barnaby took full responsibility for his actions and pledged that he would not drink and drive again.
New York’s tough DWI laws
Though pleading guilty helped Barnaby avoid jail time, his sentence still includes some of the tough penalties the state of New York inflicts on those convicted of driving under the influence. First time-offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher (.04 percent for commercial drivers) face fines up to $1,000, up to a year in jail and license revocation up to six months.
First-time offenders with a BAC of .18 percent or higher face aggravated DWI charges and fines up to $2,500, a year in jail and a license suspension of at least a year. Penalties for both DWI and aggravated DWI increase for subsequent offenses.
As the Barnaby case shows, it is illegal to refuse a breath or other chemical BAC test in New York. Those who refuse a chemical test have their licenses revoked immediately for at least a year (18 months for commercial drivers) and a $500 civil penalty to apply for a new license ($550 for commercial drivers), but no jail time.
New York state’s DWI laws and penalties are tough, but it is possible to build a defense against accusations of driving under the influence. Doing so requires an attorney who thoroughly understands New York’s DWI laws. If you have been accused of driving under the influence, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.