Whether a Buffalo teenager convicted of drinking and driving is eligible to have his or her record sealed as a youthful offender laws depends upon the age of the teenager, any prior criminal record or drunk driving convictions, and the specific charge of which the teenager has been convicted.
When a Buffalo teenager who is at least sixteen but less than nineteen years old is convicted of a misdemeanor offense and has no prior criminal convictions or youthful offender adjudications, he or she is automatically eligible to be sentenced as a youthful offender.
This includes a first time offender convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08% or Greater, or Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated.
While the only practical impact at sentencing is that the maximum potential jail sentence is reduced from one year to six months, being sentenced as a youthful offender results in the record being sealed.
This can be important because the teen is not considered to have been convicted of any crime and does not have to report the conviction on, for example, applications for work or school.
It also means that if the teen is again arrested for DWI, the prior conviction cannot be used to enhance the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Unfortunately for teens stopped for drinking and driving, New York’s youthful offender laws only apply to crimes.
The offense of Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol – which is a less serious offense – is not classified as a crime.
Instead, it is a traffic infraction. In many cases, a first time offender arrested for Driving While Intoxicated may be offered a plea to this lesser charge.
For a teenage offender, however, accepting such a plea means that the record will not be sealed and the offense may be used to enhance the penalties should he or she be re-arrested for drinking and driving.
A teen who has been arrested for DWI should consult with an experienced DWI lawyer to decide how best to proceed.
If you have been arrested for DWI and need help deciding how to proceed, we can help you. Call us at 585-484-7432.