is one of only four lawyers
in the entire State of New York
who have been Board Certified as
Specialists in DWI Defense Law by the
National College for DUI Defense ("NCDD").*
Peter served as Dean of the
National College for DUI Defense
the only organization in the
United States that is accredited by the
American Bar Association to certify
attorneys as specialists in DWI law.
Our practice is focused on, but not limited to, criminal defense. We are best known, throughout the legal community, for our experience and skill in defending those charged with Driving While Intoxicated. Many local attorneys whose practices focus on civil and business litigation refer their family members, colleagues and clients to us when they face DWI charges. In addition to DWI defense, however, we also have extensive experience in representing people who have been charged with all types of felonies, misdemeanors and traffic infractions.
A person who drives when his or her driver’s license is suspended or revoked can be charged with AUO. AUO is a crime. In fact, AUO is one of the most common crimes committed in New York State. Depending on the circumstances of the offense (for example, if you commit DWI or DWAI while your driver’s license is suspended or revoked for a prior DWI-related offense), AUO can be a felony. If an accident is involved, AUO can increase the level of the felony even further. In representing a person charged with misdemeanor AUO, our goal is to get the charge reduced to a non-criminal offense (such as Unlicensed Operation, which is only a traffic infraction) or, if possible, to a non-moving violation (such as Facilitating AUO, which is also only a traffic infraction). Of course, if you did not commit the offense, we would seek a dismissal of the charge. In representing a person charged with felony AUO, we will carefully analyze your situation to make sure that a felony charge is in fact warranted. If it is, we will do our best to get the charge reduced to a non-felony offense.
The best way to avoid a VOP is to not be on probation to begin with. Being on probation can be so intrusive on your life that, in hindsight, many people who have been on probation wish that they had simply gone to jail instead. As a result, our goal is to avoid a sentence of probation for our clients whenever possible. That said, once a person is on probation any violation thereof, no matter how small, can result in a VOP. To make matters worse, a person who is accused of a VOP has far fewer rights than a person who is accused of a crime. For example, the presumption of innocence does not apply, the People do not have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, there is no right to file motions, to suppress evidence, to a trial, to a jury, etc. Yet the consequences of a VOP can include a lengthy sentence of incarceration. Since your rights in a VOP proceeding are limited, and since the potential consequences of a VOP are severe, you need an attorney who is both familiar with the law and skilled at negotiation. We do our best to be effective at both.
Unfortunately, it is common for people sentenced to IIDs to violate the conditions thereof. One of the most common IID violations is blowing an illegal BAC into the device in the morning after a night of heavy drinking. It can be a serious mistake to attempt to represent yourself in an IID violation proceeding. Courts have heard every excuse in the book (for example, “I just used mouthwash,” “my perfume/cologne has alcohol in it,” “I just cleaned the car with wipes containing alcohol,” etc.). Everything else aside, IID installers clearly warn people to avoid any of these things if you intend to drive in the near future. Such excuses are about as well received as a claim that the dog ate your homework, and they will likely only make your bad situation worse. Do yourself a favor; hire a good attorney.
Did you know that DMV has kept records of your entire lifetime driving history? Or that DMV generally looks back at least 25 years when reviewing your driving record when making a licensing determination? Or that a 5-point driving violation such as a cell phone or texting ticket can result in your driver’s license being permanently revoked? Unless you have found out the answer to these questions the hard way, the answer is likely “no.” DMV keeps getting tougher and tougher on repeat offenders (a.k.a. persistently dangerous drivers), and your entire lifetime driving history has become relevant. It no longer matters that “I was only a teenager when I got that speeding ticket,” or that “I didn’t have a lawyer for that ticket,” or that “this is my first ticket in 20 years,” etc. It may seem unfair, but the rules have drastically changed — and many lawyers are simply unaware of the changes. We are. The bottom line is that it is often no longer safe to handle traffic tickets on your own (or even with an attorney whose practice does not focus on Vehicle and Traffic Law offenses).
Peter Gerstenzang, Esq.
Gerstenzang, Sills, Cohn & Gerstenzang
210 Great Oaks Boulevard
Albany, New York 12203
Phone: (518) 456-6456
Fax: (518) 456-6056
Cell: (518) 441-7011