Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ithaca Lawyer New Changes Coming to New York State: Special Comprehensive DWI Courts

Chief Judge Lippman's state of Union 2014 address focused on a number of important issues. He is New York's highest judge, and when he speaks people listen. One issue near and dear to my heart is his new plan to implement special DWI courts. I truly believe his intent is good now whether the execution of this plan will follow suit is still up in the air. I stand up and applaud his efforts in recognizing that these cases are different and should be handled with more care.


His primary purpose for the plan is a statewide UNIFORM process to address the cause of DWI. Uniformity is intended to create statewide consistency in the sentencing and processing of these cases.

1. Establish a dedicated DWI part in the superior court of every county with a single judge to oversee felony DWI cases. A misdemeanor part will handle those as well.

2. These judges will receive special training and expertise in handling DWI cases.

3. The goal is that DWI sentencing will be tailored to the specific needs of the offender.

4. All defendants (citizens accused) will undergo a drug/alcohol evaluation/assessment.

Special DWI Courts are Coming June 1, 2014

The Honorable Robert Mulvey is setting up special DWI courts for both City and County Courts within the 6th District. The Sixth District covers a few more counties than I do. I practice DWI law in the following 6th New York District areas: Broome, Chemung, Tioga, Tompkins, Cortland, and Schuyler counties. In addition, I cover Steuben, Yates, Seneca, and Cayuta depending on the season, times of Court, and location of the Court. By June 1, 2014 there will be DWI Courts. These will be special DWI courts with assigned Judges, Clerks, and prosecutors versed in the nuances of New York DWI cases.

Why Create New DWI Courts?

I believe that the Courts have been overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork to process DWI cases as well as the  differences between these types of crimes and other drug related cases. Traditional drug treatment courts have a vastly different element present.

Namely, people stealing and robbing in order to obtain their drug of choice. Illegal drugs like coke, heroin, and pills can be expensive, although some may argue that meth is a very cheap and long lasting high. These drugs are a far cry from the average DWI where alcohol stands as a cheap, legal, and readily available drug. In addition, alcoholism and it's treatment requires a different and individualized approach in many DWI cases.

Monitoring and supervising alcohol use (and abuse) via Ignition Interlock Devices and SCRAM bracelets require even more court time and potential appearances. All these interactions between county probation departments, prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys on DWI cases is becoming the norm instead of the previous exception in the field of drunk driving cases.

Always consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

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