Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ithaca City Court Judge Sets New Precedent on DWI Cases

Ithaca City Court
The Honorable Scott Miller

Clarity is Primary

The Ithaca City Court is evolving in a good way. Steps and procedures are being taken to ensure that sentencing of DWI cases is clear, concise, and unambiguous. In the judge's new sentencing of people charged with DWI the judge (The Honorable Scott Miller) is setting up new protocols to deal with DWI cases.

Why Here and Now?

After a DWI case returned to court due to alleged violation of their CD (conditional discharge) the thorough Judge went back through the prior recorded sentencing (everything is recorded these days) and noted that the defendant was never informed in a way that was understood by him that he MUST install an ignition interlock device on his car within 10 days OR ELSE,,, face consequences! Driving a vehicle without an installed IID, once one has been ordered by the court following a DWI sentencing is a crime (class A misdemeanor) in and of itself. In addition, it is also a violation of their CD.

Ultimately, a violator would be subject to re-sentencing to up to a year in the Tompkins county jail and/or three years of probation supervision and monitoring.

See my prior blog post to further understand what a CD really means here:
"What do New York Parole, Probation, and Conditional Discharges Have in Common?"

Consistency is the New Watch Word in New York DWI Sentencing

"Although the court system has experimented with different approaches to DWI
cases, we have never had a uniform, statewide plan. Today, I am announcing a compre- hensive plan to address this problem."

                                            Chief Judge of New York State Jonathan Lippman

I think that this has been a long time coming, and keeping with the high court's (Judge Lippman's) recent stance on CONSISTENCY in sentencing in all DWI cases statewide. Reading through the 2014 Judiciary report the word consistency is mentioned again and again.

Our own Judge Miller reiterated the high court's goals, and his compliance with it's philosophy in two major ways:

1. The judges will ensure that all defendants are screened (and assessed/evaluated) to identify alcohol or substance abuse dependency. 

2. As experts have recognized, a key component of achieving deterrence in DWI cases is certain, con- sistent and coordinated sentencing. Consolidating these cases into one court part, with a dedicated judge, will lead to consistency in sentencing. It will also enable the judge to develop expertise in this complicated and technical area of law, as well as an under- standing of the effectiveness of the statutory tools at his or her disposal, such as license suspensions, alcohol monitoring systems, and ignition interlock devices.

                                             From Judge Lippman's 2014 State of Judiciary Address 

The New Ithaca City Court DWI Conditional Discharge

New "Conditional Discharges" on DWI cases in Ithaca City Court will include a verbal and written warning that an ignition interlock device MUST be placed upon any vehicle that they own and/or operate within 10 days of sentencing. A violation of the terms of the DWI CD will now result in harsh consequences.

Ignorantia juris non excusat (Ignorance of the law is no excuse)

Leandra's Law = The mandatory IID (ignition interlock device) condition will be acknowledged and enforced from this moment forward. Noone will be able to say (neither attorney or defendant) that they DID NOT KNOW. 

Now if Judge Miller could only get the bridge fixed before next winter. Us older (read mature) folks don't like slipping and sliding on the slick Ithaca sidewalks.

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

I am certified in Field Sobriety and Breath Alcohol Testing, and an active member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD). My online materials include over 500 blog posts, dozens of articles, and over 500 informative videos on my youtube channel.

I have co-authored Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, in both 2011 and 2013. These are West Thomson legal manuals on New York State DWI defense, and focus on the best practices for other lawyers handling a New York DWI case. I was selected by Super Lawyers as a Upstate New York 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI Defense based on my experience, contributions, and professional standing.