Paul A. (2006)

Like many drivers, Paul A. was a very pleasant person but had a disastrous driving record. I have attached a copy of his driver’s record (called ‘driver’s abstract) and hopefully the details on his record come out clearly. Thankfully the status of his driving privileges only indicated suspended (and not revoked). If your driving privileges are revoked, I believe that you have to file the MV-44 form and wait………and wait………..and wait some more before DMV reinstates your driving privileges.

In 2004 Paul was driving through a Village in Nassau County when he was issued 6 tickets. Since he failed to appear for Court or enter a plea of ‘not guilty,’ the Village registered 6 separate ‘scofflaws’ on his driver’s record. Whenever a driver fails to appear on the date of the summons, each village/town/city  (such as New York City, City of Long Beach, etc.) has different policies as to whether they contact the driver or not. I don’t know if this Village ever contacted Paul.  On another day Paul was also issued tickets in Suffolk County and in a separate incident, he was issued tickets while driving through the Village of Hempstead. So his driving history was a mess.

In New York a driver like Paul will eventually be issued a ticket for “aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle in the 3rd degree,” which as I explained above  (see my summary of Kristina S.’s case) can be charged as a misdemeanor or, in the case of a repeat offender or a truly, truly egregiously bad driver, as an E felony. Regarding this latter point, if you get charged with ‘aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle in the 1st degree – the E felony – then you have to hire a lawyer to work on clearing up your license right away.

First I appeared before the Village Court  (6 summonses in total). In order to obtain the best possible outcome – I am referring to the best possible plea bargain offer – the case was transferred to Nassau County District Court. Once the case was transferred to District Court, I helped my client obtain a nice plea bargain offer, thereby finishing off the summonses from the Village Court.

Then I helped my client take care of the outstanding summonses from the Village of Hempstead Court. Eventually my client took care of the summons from Suffolk County on his own. By doing a good job in cleaning up his entire driving record, his driving privileges were finally restored.

People v. Samantha F. (Nassau County District Court) (2008)

I represented this 18 year old female who had an accident on the Meadowbrook Pkwy and was found to be intoxicated. Her parents hired me after they were quoted the price of $7,500 from a well-known defense lawyer from Garden City for nothing more than a plea of guilty. As with most clients, Samantha F. and her parents were never interested in pushing this case to trial – remember that DWI cases are also criminal cases. Their primary concern was that Samantha would not be sentenced to any jail time.

Although Samantha was measured with a .15 BAC on the night in question and she had a clean criminal record, it was not easy to represent her because she suffered from both OSC and depression, according to her doctor. According to her doctor’s letter to me, ‘both OCD and depression are common psychiatric illnesses.’ For this reason, I sometimes could not tell what mood Samantha was in.

Then again, Samantha’s parents were the most overbearing parents that I have ever worked with. They called me relentlessly and her mother must have asked me 10 times if Samantha was going to have to serve jail time. Even after the case was over and I obtained an excellent outcome for their daughter, her father had the nerve to call me at 9:00 PM on a Sunday night (after the case was over) and then leave a screaming message complaining that I did not answer the phone.

The reason why I included the above paragraph is to show the visitors to my website that I am very patient and I work well with all types of people, even in Samantha’s case where I had charged them thousands of dollars less than the so-called well known lawyer whom they had been referred to.

Samantha wound up pleading guilty to DWI (as a misdemeanor), but since she was arrested  (the arrest date is used, not the conviction date) for this crime between the ages of 16 and less than 19 years  she qualified for what is called ‘youthful offender treatment.’ When a young client is convicted of a crime and has no previous criminal record, upon your lawyer’s application, the conviction is erased and replaced with the phrase ‘youthful offender’ on the client’s record. Once this is done, the public cannot find out what crime the young person was originally charged with, what charge the young person ultimately pled guilty to  (or was convicted of after trial), etc. In other words, the term youthful offender completely replaces the conviction.

You can read more about the concept of youthful offender in the New York Criminal Procedure Section 720.10, which is entitled ‘Youthful offender procedure; definition of terms.’

Lastly, since the Department of Motor Vehicles has a ‘no tolerance policy’ for young people convicted of drug and alcohol related offenses, Samantha did not qualify for a ‘hardship license.’ When my secretary called the Driver’s Improvement Office in 2008, this is what she was told:

“A woman named Sally told me that the 1-year suspension will most likely run from the August 15 sentence date, but there is a possibility that the 1 year may run from June 6, when she plead guilty. The fact that she did not hand in her conditional license will not affect the 1-year period, because technically she didn’t have to hand it in, since the client had not yet pleaded guilty. But once she pleads guilty, it will result in a conviction, and then Samantha will have to hand in her pre-conviction license so that she can apply for 1-year conditional license  (she will also have to attend the Drinking Driver Program (‘DDP’).  She can reapply for a license (by filling out the MV-44) by waiting 1-year, since this was her 1st DWI case. Now if it were her second DWI case and she was found guilty, she would have had to wait until she turned 21 in order to obtain driving privileges.”

Remember that the policy at DMV regarding alcohol related offenses for drivers under 21 may have changed since 2008.

Youthful Offender

I have included a copy of Section 720.10 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which pertains to youthful offender status/treatment. I will sum up the most relevant portions of the statute:

  1. a client is automatically granted youthful offender status is he/she is under 19 years old at the time of arrest and has no prior felony conviction and has never been granted youthful offender status in his/her life.
    This is referred to as ‘mandatory youthful offender.’
  2. a client is not automatically eligible for youthful offender status is he/she is charged, meaning accused, of one of the following:
    1. certain armed felonies;
    2. certain sex-related offenses;
    3. any class A felony (murder in the 1st degree, kidnapping, etc.)

THEN AGAIN, for certain armed felony crimes and certain sex – related offenses, the Judge has the discretion to grant the client youthful offender status. The Judge will consider the following factors:

    1. any mitigating circumstances;
    2. if the client (the defendant) role in the crime(s) was minor and if the client was the only person involved in the crime(s);

Ultimately, the Judge has to decide if the interests of justice would be served by granting the client the status of youthful offender, which would prevent the client from having a criminal record (as an adult would have).

Just because a client is granted youthful offender status does not imply that the client will not serve any jail time, which leads to the next topic:

Sentencing For Youthful Offenders

If the client is granted youthful offender status and if the Judge decides to sentence him/her to jail time, the maximum prison sentence that the Judge is authorized to impose is less than what an adult convicted of the exact same crime would be sentenced to, as follows:

  1. if any felony conviction is replaced with youthful offender status, the maximum jail sentence that the Judge can impose is that of a class E felony, which is 1 1/3 up to 4 years’ jail time (all felonies are divided into 5 separate classes – ‘A’ to ‘E’ – with class E being the lowest class);
  2. if a conviction to a class A misdemeanor is replaced with youthful offender status, the maximum sentence that may be imposed is up to 6 months, which is less than the maximum allowable for an adult (up to 1 year jail time);
  3. if a conviction to a class B misdemeanor is replaced with youthful offender status, the maximum sentence that may be imposed is 3 months, which is the same maximum jail sentence that an adult can be sentenced to.

People v. Michelle I (2007)

My client Michelle was a nice young lady (23 years old) who was arrested in Suffolk County at 2:20 AM and charged with DWI, after the cop pulled her over for a traffic infraction. She was measured with a .11 BAC (‘blood alcohol content). In practically any jurisdiction, including Nassau County, a client like Michelle would receive the reduction down to a ‘driving while ability impaired’ (‘DWAI’), which is a violation and not a crime. Absent any extenuating circumstances (the client got into an accident, the client resisted arrest, the client was found with hard drugs or a lot of marijuana, the client was driving at an excessive rate of speed), any client with a .11 BAC who has a clean criminal record should get the reduction down to a ‘DWAI.’

Therefore, if you fall into a similar situation, your attorney should not be ‘bleeding you’ for fees for a situation similar to Michelle’s. When a client pleads guilty to ‘DWAI,’ your license will be suspended for 90 days. However, your lawyer should ask for a ‘restricted’ license that will allow you to drive to and from work, to and from school, and while on the job itself (assuming that your job requires you to drive).

Keep in mind that in the category on my website entitled ‘TRAFFIC TICKETS,’ I list the exact situations in which a restricted license may be used.
The issue with Suffolk County is that the judges require the client to write out his/her day-to-day schedule so that it can be attached to the ’20 day stay,’ which is the specific document that the client must carry in the car before the DMV mails the letter to the client to go to a local DMV office to pick up the physical hardship license.
Since Michelle lived in Suffolk County but attended Queens College (Flushing, NY) and babysat part – time, she was very grateful to obtain the hardship license. She was also required to perform community service and pay a court-ordered fine.

Judges do not order probation for a ‘DWAI’ conviction because it is a violation and not a crime.