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County program for 1st time DWI could prevent criminal record

People from all walks of life in New York get caught driving while intoxicated, but, in Broome County, first-time offenders have an opportunity to avoid a criminal record. The district attorney's office has started an alternative program that involves an ankle or wrist monitor that checks defendants for alcohol consumption for 90 days. In addition to monitoring, people would receive alcohol counseling and attend victim impact panels.

A person who successfully completes the program and abstains from alcohol for 90 days could qualify for an exemption from the DWI misdemeanor charge. The prosecutor would apply a lesser charge of driving with impaired ability. A local defense attorney commenting on the program said it provides people who have never been in trouble with the law before a fair way to keep a criminal conviction off of their records.

Only first-time offenders whose arrest did not involve a crash, death or reckless driving could qualify for this drunk driving diversion program. They need to pay $8 per day for the entire 90 days to reimburse the county for the expenses incurred by the monitoring equipment.

A person arrested for drunk driving might learn about alternative sentencing programs by consulting an attorney. Clear information about the long-term consequences of a conviction could be provided by an attorney. A legal analysis of the evidence in the case might also reveal opportunities for creating a criminal defense strategy, such as challenging the initial traffic stop itself as being made by the authorities without the requisite reasonable suspicion.

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