Most drivers in the Buffalo area are familiar with the idea of being issued a traffic ticket for a moving violation but being able to plead guilty to a reduced charge once you go to court.
For example, in many courts, a driver who is charged with speeding is frequently allowed to plead guilty to a parking ticket instead.
When it comes to offenses involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, however, New York State sets specific limits on when a charge may be reduced and to what degree.
For a person charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Driving with .08% or Greater Blood Alcohol Content, Driving While Ability Impaired by a Drug, or Driving While Ability Impaired by the Combined Influence of Alcohol and Drugs, any plea of guilty entered in satisfaction of the charge must include at least a plea of guilty to an alcohol or drug related driving offense.
As a result, someone charged with one of these offenses usually cannot, for example, plead guilty to a Speeding ticket instead.
The only circumstances under which a person charged with one of these offenses is allowed to plead guilty to a non-alcohol or drug related driving offense is if the district attorney reviews the evidence and determines that the charge is not warranted.
Under such circumstances, the district attorney may consent to a plea of guilty to another charge.
If the court accepts the plea, it is required to state on the record the basis for it.
Even if the district attorney decides the charge is not warranted, the law still requires the defendant to undergo a drug and alcohol abuse screening and complete any recommended treatment.
Given these limitations on pleading to a lesser charge in a DWI case, it is important to have a good DWI lawyer. If you need help, call us at (716) 542-5444.