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Alternative Programs for First-Time Offenders

Last updated on: March 20, 2024

By Lebedin Kofman LLP

It is important to know the landscape of where the case is heard. In Manhattan, for example, there are no alternative programs available for someone who is arrested on DWI since they are generally very strict on these types of cases. They want you to take a misdemeanor conviction if you were above a 0.14, which is why we end up going to trial on a lot of these cases and fighting them.

However, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island do have certain programs available for first-time offenders or sometimes even second-time offenders. This would be for cases where the conviction would have a very bad effect on your job or ability to earn a living.

If you find yourself facing a DWI charge, it’s crucial to have the right legal representation to navigate the complexities of strict DWI laws. At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our experienced Manhattan DWI lawyers understand the unique challenges of these cases. We can diligently investigate your case, challenge evidence, and explore all available avenues for your defense, including addressing the implications of ignition interlock device requirements. Contact us today at (646) 663-4430 to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.

You Might End up with BACtrack or an Ankle Bracelet

We could also get you a two-step conditional plea, meaning you would have to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and then participate in a program. You would then either have to wear an ankle bracelet for three or six months to monitor your alcohol levels, or you would have a keychain called a BACtrack which you would have to breathe into a couple of times a day to show you were not consuming alcohol.

TASC Monitoring

You may also get TASC monitoring for which you would have to come in once a week to give a urine test to prove you were not consuming alcohol. It can sometimes get even more intensive with the AEP, Alcohol Education Program, and DDP, Drinking Driving Program.

Ignition Interlock Devices

You might need to install the interlock ignition system for six months to a year to show you are committed and you understand you made a mistake.

If you behave yourself, you may be allowed to come back so that the misdemeanor would get erased and you would be left with just a violation.

What is pretrial diversion?

Pretrial diversion can be used as an alternative to traditional criminal sentencing. Although the defendant has admitted guilt, the judge will not sentence them to jail time. Instead, they will be required to take part in a program tailored to their particular case. If the defendant is charged with drug possession, the program could include substance abuse counseling, detox, and evaluation.

Programs typically last between 12 and 24 months with an average of 18 months. The defendant can often attend the program in an outpatient sober home and still work. To ensure all program conditions are met, the defendant will have a probation officer assigned.

The defendant will be released if he or she meets all requirements and successfully completes the program. The case will be closed and the defendant will not have any criminal convictions.

Diversion eligibility requirements

Defendants are charged with a Class B, C, D, or E felony drug offense (such as sale, possession, manufacturing, trafficking, etc.). Diversion may be available for certain nonviolent offenses or Class B, C, D, and E felony drug offenses. If a defendant has been convicted in the last ten years of a violent or Class A crime, or if they are adjudicated as a persistent violent felony offender, they will not be eligible for diversion.

Features of Pretrial Diversion Program Eligibility Requirements
Program Duration Programs typically last between 12 and 24 months, with an average duration of 18 months.
Program Components The program is tailored to the defendant’s particular case, and for drug possession cases, it may include substance abuse counseling, detox, and evaluation.
Defendant’s Status The defendant has admitted guilt but will not be sentenced to jail. They will be released upon meeting all program requirements, and successful completion of the program will result in no criminal convictions.
Eligible Offenses Defendants charged with Class B, C, D, or E felony drug offenses (such as sale, possession, manufacturing, trafficking, etc.) may be eligible. Certain nonviolent offenses may also qualify for diversion.
Ineligibility Criteria Defendants who have been convicted of a violent or Class A crime in the last ten years or are adjudicated as a persistent violent felony offender will not be eligible for diversion.

What is the Felony Diversion Program in NY?

The Felony Diversion Program in New York, specifically known as the Judicial Diversion Program (JDP), is a transformative initiative within the state’s legal system, targeting individuals charged with non-violent felonies who struggle with substance abuse. Established under CPL Article 216, the JDP operates in the courtrooms of Suffolk County Court, among other jurisdictions.

The core aim of the program is to provide an alternative pathway to those who might otherwise face the traditional criminal justice procedures, which often lead to incarceration or probation. By focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment, the JDP allows participants to engage in a court-supervised drug or alcohol treatment program. This is not only a bid to help individuals overcome their addictions but also to prevent future criminal activity associated with substance abuse.

Upon arraignment, eligible defendants are presented with the option to opt into the JDP. If they choose this route, a dedicated Case Manager collaborates with the defendant to develop a personalized treatment plan. As part of the program, participants are expected to make regular court appearances, during which a judge reviews and oversees their recovery progress.

The JDP represents a crucial step in addressing the underlying issues that contribute to criminal behavior. By emphasizing treatment over punishment and providing judicial oversight, the program endeavors to help individuals achieve sobriety and, ultimately, aims to reduce recidivism rates.

Attending Rehabilitative Programs Can Help Reduce Penalties

People who end up going through these programs generally have a much better understanding and appreciation for why this should never happen again and why they should stay out of trouble, as compared to the prosecutor’s approach or perspective that no, they did not need these types of programs and that you had to take a misdemeanor because your reading was above a 0.14.

These people may end up taking a misdemeanor conviction, but they would not have anywhere near the appreciation as someone who ended up wearing an ankle bracelet so they could monitor their alcohol levels for six months.

It is a hassle to go to classes a couple of times a week and then come back to court every couple of months because the case drags on for a year, which is why someone who had to go through all of this process would really never want to do it again.

Unfortunately, these options are not offered in all counties. However, it would still be a possibility, provided your attorney could make a compelling argument for you, which is something we are oftentimes able to do for clients.

Manhattan DWI attorney

We recently handled a case where we were able to get a conditional plea for a client who had an alcohol reading of 0.21, and he had gotten into a head-on collision in his car. Our DWI attorneys were able to get him into a program where he had to wear an ankle bracelet for six months, and he got TASC monitoring.

He had to come into TASC for urinalysis once a week, and then after approximately a year of monitoring, we were able to come back and get him a violation where he had no criminal record.

These are things that should be taken into consideration, and this is why it is important to know the landscape of where you are waging the battle.

We are often able to get reductions in charges for our clients, and in our practice, it is extremely rare for our clients to end up pleading guilty to what they were initially charged with. We take this practice very seriously and we take our clients’ lives very seriously.

Our business is based on referrals, so it would be impossible to ever find a client who would say that we did not fight our hearts out to try to get them the absolute best possible deal. We tell our clients that we want to be their lawyers for life, and we want to handle everything they need as they move forward.

We also do this for other attorneys who work for us and who handle a lot of different practice areas. It would be very rare for one of our clients to plead guilty to a crime or be convicted of the crime they were charged with.

If you do go to trial, you will do so based on an understanding that you have a very good chance, and this decision will be made together with the client. Of course, it would ultimately be the client’s decision, but we will lay out all the possibilities for them and fight like crazy at the trial. We do our very best to get the client a dismissal of all charges.

DUI First Offender Program

The Impaired Driver Program (IDP), formerly referred to as the Drinking Driving Program (DDP), is a New York State initiative designed to decrease the frequency of injuries, disabilities, and deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents associated with alcohol and drug use. Its objective is to lower the risk of re-offending for individuals charged with impaired driving offenses.

Participants in the IDP undergo comprehensive education on the dangers of high-risk alcohol and drug use, helping them recognize and change behaviors that pose a risk. The program employs multimedia presentations and facilitated discussions to heighten participants’ motivation to protect the things they hold most dear in life. Through individual and group activities using workbooks, participants engage in various exercises. A preliminary screening is conducted to identify potential risk factors for substance abuse disorders. If an individual is deemed at risk, they will be referred for a thorough clinical assessment and, if necessary, further treatment.

As a participant in the IDP, it is compulsory to attend all seven weekly classroom sessions, each lasting 2 to 3 hours, amounting to a total of 16 hours. Once you successfully complete the classroom sessions, your participation in the IDP will generally end, unless the program determines it necessary to recommend you for further evaluation and subsequent treatment.

Once you fulfill all the requirements of the program, the IDP will issue a “Notice of Completion,” which will also be electronically transmitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Depending on your current license status and driving history, this may lead to the reinstatement of your license or make you eligible to apply for a new one. However, your eligibility may be affected if you have two or more alcohol/drug-related driving offenses on your record, if your conditional license has been revoked, if the violation occurred when you were under 21 years of age, if you refused an alcohol or drug test during the violation, or if the violation took place while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

If you are facing charges related to impaired driving, it is crucial to have an experienced DWI lawyer by your side. At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our skilled Manhattan DWI attorneys possess a comprehensive understanding of the complexities within the legal system and can provide you with valuable guidance throughout the DUI first-offender program. They can safeguard your rights and strive for the most favorable resolution in your circumstances. Contact us at (646) 663-4430 for proficient legal representation throughout your DWI case.

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