What are DWI Conviction Limits?

February 9, 2022

Having a prior DWI conviction can be unnerving, especially if it stands in the way of achieving other life goals such as a scholarship or a particular job, not to mention the effect on insurance rates. All these misfortunes can take a toll on you; you’re probably wondering what you can do and how long it will stay in your record. This will depend entirely on which state you are in. State laws concerning DWIs vary. However, most states allow for a period (referred to as lookback or washout period) after which your conviction can be overlooked. 

New York state has developed a hard stance in recent years concerning DWIs, mostly impacting repeat offenders. For instance, maximum jail time and fines have been revised upward to 7 years and $10,000 for third-time offenders. While the previous washout period was 10 years, it is now 15 years making New York second in the most extreme washout period after Massachusetts, which is for life. Most states have an average washout period of between 5-10 years. There are steps you can take, which we shall go through shortly, to get your DWI charge not to affect your day-to-day life. If you’re in Syracuse, you can engage a professional DWI/DUI Lawyer In Albany to guide you on the best way to go about it. 

Can I get my DWI Conviction Expunged in New York?

When certain conditions are met, some US states allow one to apply for an expungement of their criminal record from the system. This is not possible in New York state as there is no provision by law. However, there is a lesser alternative available that you can apply for, referred to as ‘sealing.’ 

What’s the difference between expunging and sealing? Expunging a conviction means it’s erased from the court system, and as far as the court is concerned, no such thing ever happened. On the other hand, Sealing means the case still exists but is not available to the public and most entities. This means that if they run a background check on you, they are not likely to find it. You can carry on with your daily activities without worry that the past conviction will be a hindrance.  

How do I Qualify for Sealing in New York?

The law that allows for sealing was made effective in 2017 to allow certain criminal records to be hidden from the general public but under certain conditions. To be eligible, you should have completed 10 years from the time you were convicted (or the time you were released if you served a jail term) with no charges in court (current or pending). You should also have a maximum of only two convictions; this means that if you have three DWI charges, you fail the eligibility. However, if you have had three DWIs and the washout period has elapsed for one of them, you’re eligible. You should note that you’re allowed a maximum of two convictions to seal, although related convictions may be considered as one. 

How do I Seal my DWI Conviction in New York? 

After checking for all the necessary conditions, the following steps should enable you to seal your DWI conviction successfully. 

  • Apply for a Certificate of Disposition (an official court statement accounting for what happened in your case) from the court. If the conviction is more than one, get a Certificate of Disposition for each of them. Any relevant documentation supporting your application should also be attached. 
  • Return it to the court you were sentenced to.
  • Serve a copy of the complete application to the District Attorney in the county the conviction was made. The District Attorney shall have 45 days to object to the application. 

Note that if the application comprises more than one case, it should be submitted to the court where the more serious crime was heard. If there will be no objection from the District Attorneys’ office after 45 days and the judge has verified that all application conditions have been met, a hearing date will be fixed and a ruling determined.

There are several factors the court will consider in the process of awarding your ruling. The most notable are; 

  • The nature and gravity of the case you’re seeking to be sealed.
  •  Statements made by other concerned parties to your case, victims or otherwise.
  • Your overall character, whether or not you’ve taken any measures to be a responsible citizen in the future.
  • The impact the sealing may have on your behavior, whether you could pose a risk to public safety.  

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