Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BWI Lies: Does New York Boating While Intoxicated Affect Your Driver's License?

Look at all these lakes, we are surrounded with natural beauty.

I get calls almost every day about something. Something someone heard, or someone said, or someone read, or someone saw online. So much misinformation, and lies, and deceit offline and online. Way too easy to hustle up some fear. Get people in a fury over an impending loss.

The Doom and Gloom Game

We call it the "doom and gloom" game. Attorneys, doctors, insurance agents, and sometimes even financial advisors preaching the end of times or it's equivalent: jail or prison, or god forbid, the loss of your New York State driving privileges.

Some attorneys put it on their website, this may affect your driving privileges, kinda sneaky if you ask me. Some attorneys just say you will lose your operating privileges but fail to mention OPERATING WHAT?

Lies, Lies, and Damned Lies

Well my call yesterday revolved around a New York BWI. With so many beautiful lakes it is no wonder people love bringing their watercraft to the Finger Lakes region of NYS. In fact that's one of the reasons I live here, I love the lakes.

The Big Question: Is it true they asked, can a BWI (boating while intoxicated) affect your driver's license privileges? They went on... Well because my attorney on my last DWI case told me that the DMV told him (sounds like a lot of hearsay) that it will?

I was challenged. I have written articles and blog posts about BWI. BTW none of which talk about loss of driving privileges. Yes, you will lose YOUR privileges to operate YOUR VESSEL.

Your boating license but as to law as we know it today:

New York State Navigation Law Article 4 Part 1 Section 49- A 

3.  Privilege  to  operate  a vessel; suspensions. (a) The court shall
  suspend a person's privilege to operate  a  vessel  and  may  suspend  a
  vessel registration for:
    (1)  a  period  of  at  least six but less than twelve months where an
  operator is convicted of a violation of paragraph (a) of subdivision two
  of this section.  In  determining  the  length  of  such  suspension  or
  suspensions,  the  court  may take into consideration the seriousness of
  the  offense  and  may  impose  a  period  of  suspension  whereby  such
  suspension  may  be  in  effect  during  a  portion  of  the  current or
  subsequent boating season;

Operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol leads to a suspension of a person's privilege to operate a VESSEL.

The full section explains all of New York State BWI law, rather dry if you ask me. But anyway, there is recent legislation in this area but it involves prior or subsequent DWIs or SWIs or BWIs. There is real legislation on this exact issue BUT it is still pending. If passed it would cause driving privileges to be lost, it's NYS Senate Bill S771-2013. It has not passed yet but I feel in the future it will.

A nasty piece of legislation for sure:

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends section 49-a of the Navigation Law to add provisions prohibiting aggravated BWI (.18 blood alcohol content or operating intoxicated with a child passenger) as well as operating under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol. Creates motor vehicle driver license suspensions for BWI convictions as well boating privilege suspensions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) convictions. Makes clear that a prior conviction for operating any other vehicle under the influence shall be considered a prior BWI for purposes of the enhanced penalty provisions for multiple BWIs.

Tiffany's Law is Real BWI Linking Law

ALL WIs (while intoxicated) offenses or WIs (impaired by drugs) offenses in NYS can now be used against you at SENTENCING on your BWI, or SWI, or DWI. They are all linked together.

In other words just because you operated a snowmobile or a boat or a car while impaired and/or intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol in the past they will ALL be taken into consideration by the Court, the judge, and the prosecutor when determining sentencing (punishment/probation/jail/prison/consequences) on your new BWI. No more limits on first time BWI.

Where Tiffany's law comes from. A young girl named Tiffany Heitkamp was killed by a drunk boater. Because it was his first BWI (not a first WI) the sentencing on the case and the charges were limited.
This loophole has now been removed.

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.