Braylon Edwards, the New York Jets star wide receiver, was arrested and charged in Manhattan after being stopped for suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI / DUI) and drunk driving. Although it is not clear what, if any, field sobriety tests were administered, reports indicate that Edwards blew a .16 on the Intoxilyzer (a Breathalyzer device). The likely charges are VTL 1192.2 for registering .08 or above, VTL 1192.3 (“Common Law DWI”) based on the observations of the police officer which may have included watery blood-shot eyes, slurred speech, etc., and VTL 1192.1 (Driving While Ability Impaired). DWI in New York pursuant to VTL 1192.2 and 1192.3 are both misdemeanors. VTL 1192.1 is a violation and would not result in a criminal conviction.
While it is too early to give a full analysis of Edwards’ DWI case, as a general rule, Manhattan prosecutors do not make non-criminal offers on DWI arrests where the BAC level is as high as .16. While it is common for offers of VTL 1192.1 (a traffic infraction) to be made on DWIs in the vicinity of .08 to .12, it is significantly more difficult to get an offer the higher one’s BAC is. Other factors prosecutors examine include the defendant’s history and whether there were any elements of the offense that would enable them to charge additional crimes such as Reckless Endangerment (DWI by itself is not necessarily “reckless” in the eyes of the law. Other factors of criminality must be present such as speeding / weaving through traffic, barely avoiding pedestrians, etc.). Moreover, although Edwards did not blow a .18, if he had done so, Aggravated DWI would be charged further limiting possible dispositions.
Potential sentences on DWI for a first time offender include up to one year in jail, a fine from $500 to $1000, potential community service or probation, a drinking and driving program and a three year assessment / fee on one’s license. Moreover, one’s license will be revoked six months. A stay of that revocation may be made at the time of sentencing so that the convicted may apply for a conditional license relating to work. Compounding matters, As of August 15, 2010, Leandra’s Law requires that an ignition interlock device be installed on one’s vehicle at the expense of that person. Those convicted of DWI as a misdemeanor cannot drive any vehicle without such a device.
Here, because of the level of the alleged intoxication and the prior assault in Cleveland to a friend of LeBron James, it is likely that no offer will be made. That is, he will be required to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. The potential punishment will be as set forth above. It is an interesting side note, that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has recently begun presenting misdemeanor DWIs to the Grand Jury. Whether they are now judge shopping or believe that Supreme Court Judges, as opposed to Criminal Court Judges, will take the cases more seriously, is not merely a potentially ethical question, but one that raises many questions. Where Edwards will find himself is yet to be seen.
Even assuming that an offer is not made, Edwards and his criminal defense lawyer need not throw their hands up in the air. What was the basis of the stop? Why was the vehicle pulled over? When Mr. Edwards was given a Breathalyzer or Intoxilyzer, was it done so properly? Was he advised of his rights? Was the machine in proper working order and calibrated correctly? At a minimum, the District Attorney’s Office will provide some of this information through paperwork and a video recording at or shortly after Edwards’ arraignment. In addition to providing this paperwork, Edwards’ license will be suspended and, if applicable, his criminal defense attorney can ask for a Hardship Hearing for an “immediate” conditional license.
While I don’t expect him to be bunk mates with Plaxico Burress, Edwards not only has to deal with the criminal consequences of this DWI arrest, but he won’t be finding the End Zone any time soon.
For extensive information on New York DWI crimes and laws including a “New York DWI Primer,” please follow the highlighted link. In the next week further information will be published on Leandra’s law and the ignition interlock devices as well as the new crimes associated with manipulating or circumventing these devices. For additional criminal statutes, legal decisions and newsworthy cases relating to DWI as well as other offenses, please review the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog.
Saland Law PC is a Manhattan based criminal defense firm. Prior to starting Saland Law PC, our two founding New York criminal defense lawyers served as prosecutors under Robert Morgenthau in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Saland Law PC represents the accused throughout the New York City region.