Cimasi Law Office

Bereavement is not a good defense to a New York DWI

Losing someone suddenly and violently can take its toll on anyone. Far too many New York residents face this situation each year, and many of them work in high risk occupations such as law enforcement or firefighting. Losing a colleague under these conditions often feels like losing a member of the family. Even under these circumstances, it is not a good idea to drive while impaired since police probably will not care that the individual is grieving and could make a DWI arrest.

For instance, a firefighter in the Big Apple left the funeral of a colleague who fell to his death while trying to save the victims of a car accident. As he drove, his vehicle hit and injured a pedestrian. When police arrived, they say they smelled alcohol on him. To make matters worse, the 36-year-old was driving a vehicle owned by the firefighters union and was wearing his full dress uniform.

A senior official with the New York City Police Department claimed the man "reeked" of alcohol. Officers at the scene took him into custody on suspicion of DWI. He refused to submit to a breath test as well. Despite these circumstances, he retains the right to challenge the charges.

Even though bereavement is not a viable defense for defense for DWI, it does not negate exercising rights given by the U.S. Constitution. It is especially important not to simply plead guilty when an aggravating factor such as an accident with injuries is involved. The sooner an accused begins to address the situation, the better the chances are that the best possible outcome could be achieved.

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