What New York Drivers Need to Know About Vince’s Law & Felony DWI

Even as societal tolerance for intoxicated driving has declined over the years, the New York legislature has remained consistent in its efforts to increase the penalties for drunk driving. Most recently, the legislature passed "Vince's Law," which both raised the potential jail time for convicted drunk drivers and expanded the list of past convictions that could be taken into account when charging a driver with a felony.

New York law already considered drunk driving a felony-level offense in certain circumstances. For example, drivers charged with DWI within 10 years of a prior DWI conviction could already be charged with a Class E felony, which could result in a fine and/or up to four years in jail. Vince's Law increases the chance a driver will be charged with a more serious Class D felony, which ordinarily carries a potential penalty of a fine and/or up to seven years behind bars. Plus, Vince's law makes at least some jail time mandatory.

If you have been charged with felony DWI under Vince's Law or any other New York law, don't give up. At the same time, don't wait to hire a high-quality DWI defense lawyer to protect your rights. Veteran criminal defense attorney Michael D. Horn has been fighting for people in the New York and federal justice systems for 25 years, and he stands ready to fight for you.

Contact us now for a free consultation. Our main office is in Astoria, Queens, and we can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What Prompted the Passage of Vince's Law?

One Sunday morning in January 2011, an 82-year-old Onondaga County man named Vincent Russo was driving to mass when a drunk driver struck him head-on. He did not survive. It turns out that the driver who hit him had a blood alcohol content of nearly four times the legal limit.

That was shocking enough, but it was also revealed that the driver was awaiting sentencing for his fifth DWI conviction, yet he was still out driving. As a result, his family and concerned community members pressed the legislature to change the law to ensure that someone with five DWI convictions would be in jail — not out on the road.

What Does Vince's Law Mean for You?

Vincent Russo's death was a tragedy, and it may be that the changes passed in Vince's Law would have deterred the drunk driver who hit him.

Unfortunately, in protecting innocent people like Mr. Russo, the legislature took away some of the discretion judges and prosecutors have to make charging and sentencing decisions. District attorneys and judges need that discretion because no two DWI cases are truly the same.

Even among repeat drunk drivers, there are meaningful differences between cases. Sometimes there are aggravating factors in one case that are not present in another; other times there are mitigating factors. Each individual case involves a human being with their own history and motivations, and our criminal justice system requires each case to be considered individually. Doing so is part of what protects our freedom.

The stakes have gone up with the passage of Vince's Law, but it is important to remember that the stakes for a drunk driving conviction in New York are constantly being ratcheted up. Michael D. Horn's decades of experience in DWI defense, including cases involving repeat DUI/DWI charges, could be invaluable in your case.

Contact Us Now for a Free Consultation

Contact us now through our online contact form or by calling 718-777-7717. We are available 24/7 and we will return your call or email promptly. We represent people in Queens and throughout New York City, and we can meet with you in jail, if necessary. We accept credit cards for payment. Our staff speaks Spanish and translation for other languages is available.