May 25

Step Down Permitted For Refusals

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In State v Taylor decided March 11, 2015, the Appellate Division extended the step down provision of the DWI statute to refusal cases. The DWI statute provides that yu can have a step down if there is a 10 year gap between offenses. Lets say you get a DWI in 2000 and another in 2015. Because there is a 10 year gap between the two, you can be sentenced as a first offender and not a second, and as you know, penalities increase with every subsequent offense. So the step down can save you from a two year loss of license and you only have a seven month loss of license, or in the case of a third offense step down, you go from a ten year loss of license to only two. Thus, the step down provision can have a big impact on loss of license. But it was never applied to refusal cases until now. The Court reasoned it was an issue of fundamental fairness. Why should it only apply to DWI cases? After all, the statutes are simularily situated in that they punish related offenses, DWI and the refusal to take a breath test. So the Court, in it’s words, “engrafted” a step down provision to the refusal statute. Another example of an attorney engaged in good lawyering for his client and not relying on the status quo. Lawyers need to push issues for their clients and not just say “Oh well, step down does not apply to refusal, sorry”.

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