Friday, July 29, 2011

Ithaca Cortland DWI Lawyer: When is a Day NOT 24 Hours?

Today is my trick question day. People sometimes have to do some Jail time. This is differentiated from Prison time. Jail is the local county place, in Tompkins county you are in my mind, relatively safe, I like to joke tater tots and Monopoly, because that is what I smell and see when I visit.

The way the penal system works is you get to spend time with fellow prisoners/jailers in pods (small groups of inmates) in county jail unless you are real bad. Generally, the worse you (don't get along or play well with others) are the less time, and the less people you get to spend time with. The really bad people get solitary confinement (they get to be completely alone). Prison means going into the deep state system.

1. A day is not 24 hours when it is a jail/prison day. Even five minutes spent in the county lock up counts as ONE FULL DAY. Check into jail at 11:55pm, and you have one full day credit.

2. A jail sentence is usually 2/3 time. Meaning that 6 months is really 4 months. 30 days is really 20 days. Time spent on weekends from Friday evening to Sunday evening counts as 3 FULL DAYS even though you spent a small part of Friday and half of Sunday in Jail.

3. Lately I have seen more and more Judges giving short sentences of a weekend or two for first time DWI cases. It is still a small minority but it is an emerging trend. For people who violate their conditional discharges, and probationary sentences jail is inevitable. Understanding your options, and how much time you are really looking at is important. This is especially true if your sentence can be limited to only weekends. The advantage of weekend jail is maintaining (as in keeping) your job, and of course your family relationships.

4. Potentially, violations can bring up to 15 days in jail. Misdemeanors up to a year in jail. Felonies more than a year of jail, and usually mean Prison time at those longer terms of confinement.

If you have any questions about your New York State DWI, criminal, or drug case give me a call at 607-229-5184 or email me at

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ithaca, NY DWI Lawyer Plays The Can You "Prove" That Game

In my typical week I stand in front of a great many Judges, Court Clerks, and Assistant District Attorneys. When I say this or that about this law or that statute I am often looked at quizzically (is that a word? of course it is after all I said so!.

But even if one week the Judge or Clerk or ADA says OK, you're right, the next week it's like the movie "Ground Hog Day." We start all over as if they forgot what happened in the prior week. Which has me bringing into the Court, law books, so they can see the actual numbers and pages to the law that I quote and want applied.

For instance, it is the "law" that if someone pays restitution for a crime that there is no mandatory state surcharge for the crime/violation. In the case of a DWI with an accident, if the tree or street sign or mail box that were broken or destroyed are replaced or repaired, there should be NO NYS SURCHARGES!

When I tell some Judges, Clerks, and ADAs this law they often balk at my request and insist that I am mistaken, that I am wrong, or don't you know about the DWI exception to this law? The What?

Anyway, I often have to pull out my books or my photocopied pages of the statutes to prove my point.
The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law section on Penalties and Disposition of Fines and Forfeitures in VTL §1809 (6) states that, Notwithstanding any other provision of this section,
where a person has made restitution or reparation pursuant to section 60.27 of the penal law, such person shall not be required to pay a mandatory surcharge or crime victim assistance fee.

Furthermore, New York State Penal Law § 60.35 (6) states that Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, where a person has made restitution or reparation pursuant to section 60.27 of this article, such person shall not be required to pay a mandatory surcharge or a crime victim assistance fee.

Proof is usually in the pudding or in this case most certainly in the law.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New York State Troopers Small in Numbers but Huge in Impact

New York State Troopers comprise a mere 6% of the total population of law enforcement throughout New York State. It is mind boggling when I reviewed the citation statistics for this small branch of New York's safety and protection team.

Troopers give over 900,000 tickets a year.
Troopers make 30% of all DWI arrests a year.
Troopers give 50% of all seat belt (restraint) violations.
Troopers issue almost 55% of all speeding tickets.

So the next time you are pulled over on a major Interstate, Highway, or Road by a Trooper think twice before trying to talk yourself out of it. Talking only incriminates (guilts) you further. My advice is to be polite, cooperative, and respectful. They will occasionally reduce your speeding ticket to a non-speeding ticket at roadside (this is a gift for your attitude). Non-speeds may not raise your car insurance, generally carry less points, and lower fines.

Move Over Law is Enforced in the Finger Lakes, VTL 1144

There is a new law that is being strictly enforced throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York State, Steuben County (Towns of Avoca, Savona, Wayland, Bath, Cohocton), on 390, I-17, I-86 called the:

Ambrose-Searles 'Move Over Act'

Effective January 1, 2011

Protects law enforcement officers and emergency workers stopped along roadways while performing their duties.
  • Drivers must use due care when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting.
    • On all roads and highways, drivers must reduce speed;
    • On Parkways and other controlled access highways with multiple lanes, drivers must move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards exist to prevent doing so safely.


  • Violations of this law are punishable as a moving violation.
The charge brings Points (2), fines (range of $0 to $150), and a NYS surcharge ($85).

Under VTL (Vehicle and Traffic Law) 1144 (a) there is a failure to yield right of way to an emergency vehicle law already in effect which is a fine range of $0 to $275, 3 points, with an $85 surcharge.

You can contact me to discuss representation for these as well as other moving violations in Steuben County.

Avoca a Little Town In Steuben County with Lots of Speeding Tickets

This month has been hot in the Finger Lakes, maybe it's the rain but it's been really humid. Speeding on 390 is almost a given as people make there way from SUNY Geneseo (a really high ranking state school), Buffalo, and Rochester down through the center of the state. It is beautiful country far and wide but it can get a little boring so hence the speed. City people from NYC and New Jersey are just used to going fast. It is a nice stretch of road and easy to go fast, sometimes too fast, I have had a record number of 90+ MPH ticket clients in June.

Quaint little Steuben county towns like Avoca, Bath, Wayland, Campbell, and Savona don't have a lot of big city excitement but there are farm stands, country diners, and plenty of farms.

Check out Mom's Savona Diner on Main Street, the Chat-A-Whyle (how clever is that?) in Bath has fresh soups and salads (they are only a few blocks from the County Courthouse), good Italian at the Union Block Cafe in Hammondsport, or the Fox's Pizza Den in Campbell, NY.

As for speeding, remember NEW NYS Move Over law on changing lanes is, if you see an emergency vehicle (police/trooper/ambulance/fire) YOU MUST MOVE OVER (change lanes), and remember You can't speed up to pass (it's still speeding), keeping up with traffic flow (it's still speeding) is not an excuse, Not knowing the law (ignorance) is not an excuse (or a legal defense) if you are from Massachusetts or New Jersey or Maryland or anyplace else.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How DWI & Violations Can Affect NYS Car Insurance

Or You can run but you can’t hide...

Insurance companies are typically not notified or contacted following a drinking driving incident (DWI arrest) unless there is an accident or until a driver’s license is suspended or revoked (cancelled) by the NYS DMV. License suspensions for DWI in NYS typically do not begin until the arraignment (initial appearance) in Court, this is called a “suspension pending prosecution.”

If there is a drinking (drug) related accident it is likely that your car insurance company will do one of three things: drop you (no coverage), raise your rates substantially, or place you in a new category (undesirable/ high risk pool/ minimal coverage).

If it is a no accident DWI or DWAI: When and IF (the big if) your insurance company checks (runs) your driver’s license history (usually every one to three years) they will likely increase (substantially) your premiums or drop you as a customer at your next renewal date. I had one client (under 21) whose insurance went up to $7,500/year. BTW The boy’s father dropped him from his policy, and household not the insurance coverage.

Whenever an insurance company has a brand new customer looking to get car insurance, or an existing customer who requests a change (either up or down in coverage, or a new car, or a car exchange) in policy, the insurance company will typically run a new (recent) driving record check. NYS calls these driving “abstracts.” On the abstract are infractions, violations, DWI, suspensions, revocations, changes, PIRP (point insurance reduction programs), with the dates of the convictions/actions to your license. Currently you can get a copy of this at any DMV for $10.
Speeding tickets, reckless, accidents, and careless driving affect insurance premiums greatly. Company to company, the change may be an additional $300 to $700 more per year for three (yes, 3) or more years. They say, "Speed kills," but it also "costs." 

NYS is a member of the Driver License Compact (45 states belong), and also connects and logs onto a National License Registry. If you change states (relocate) then the new state will likely get a full driver license history from NYS. So you can run but you can’t hide from your history. Some states require that you show an insurance carrier your drinking driver history, this is called a SR-22, and if anything happens to license (like a DWI suspension) the carrier is notified immediately about your suspension.

Even though NYS DWI and DWAI convictions do not have any points associated with them they have something referred to by the DMV as negative units. These will be on your unseen (the DMV has their own system) record, and will affect future car insurance premiums. It is especially important that you avoid any future additional moving/driving violations. If your insurance company raises your premiums, changes your coverage pool, or drops you, you should “shop around.” Insurance these days is a highly competitive industry, and many companies (without name brand recognition) would be happy to take your premiums even with a DWI on your record. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Friend, and Compadre Lawyer Joe Villanueva

I don't make too many endorsements for fear of future repercussions. Yes I hesitate at times to recommend anyone or anything, but I have known the lawyer, the father, the husband, and the friend Joe Villanueva for years now. He is straight with the people he represents, no BS. I like and respect that about him.

Joe practices in Westchester County (and the surrounding areas), and the "big" city, as in New York City. He and his firm do criminal defense, tickets, employment law, and litigation. As a former NYC prosecutor (I won't hold that against him, we all make mistakes) he knows his way around a Courtroom. He also has extensive civil litigation (that's trial) experience.

I feel confident placing him upon my blog. I call Joe for everything as they say North of the Macon Dixon line or in our case Far East of Ithaca, NY.

He has offices in the City and in Scarsdale.

Picture of Joseph P. Villanueva
And his smile is as big as his heart.

Phone: (800) 893-9645

Fax: (914) 873-4827
700 White Plains Rd.
Suite 237 

Scarsdale, New York 10583