Erie County’s New “Drink and Drive, Lose Your Ride” Policy

Although the number of DWIs is falling in Erie County, Sheriff Tim Howard says there is still a surprising number of recurring DWI offenders. The county has put a policy into effect with the intended result of reducing the number of repeat DWIs in the area. This policy, called “Drink and Drive, Lose Your Ride”, states that, if someone is charged with their second felony DWI, prosecutors have the power to potentially seize and auction off their vehicle. Read on to see what constitutes a DWI felony, how the Drink and Drive, Lose Your Ride policy may impact you, and how a DWI attorney can help.

Felony DWI in New York State

In New York State, you could be charged with felony DWI for several different reasons. If you have a prior DWI conviction within 10 years or three DWI convictions within the past 15 years, you can be charged with
felony DWI. Additionally, you could be charged with felony DWI for violating Leandra’s Law, which enforces strict penalties for driving drunk with a child aged 15 or under in the vehicle. According to WBFO’s report, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard says that deputies average one arrest per day where “the person’s previously been convicted and didn’t learn his or her lesson.”

Effects on repeat offenders

Under the Drink and Drive, Lose Your Ride policy, which was first enacted over Labor Day Weekend, anyone charged with their second felony DWI could have their car confiscated. According to Time Warner Cable News, the car will be taken to the police department and the DA’s office will attempt to find out who the primary user of the car is. If the vehicle’s primary user is the offender, it can then be auctioned off by the county. The Buffalo News reports that money from these sales will go to support further DWI enforcement and New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. “Unfortunately, we see too many DWI offenders, even those who have had their driver’s license taken away, still get back behind the wheel drunk,” Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael Flaherty explained in a Niagara Frontier Publications report. “This new policy goes a step further in keeping the repeat offenders from putting themselves and others in danger on the roads.”

Deterring DWI offenses

According to WBFO, one quarter of the felony cases in the Erie County District Attorney’s office are DWI cases. The Drink and Drive, Lose Your Ride policy was instituted in order to help deter DWI offenses in Western New York. Stop DWI Director John Sullivan says that the program is “another tool that helps in the deterrence model.”
“All of the sanctions and the fines and the license sanctions and all the trouble that people get in for driving while intoxicated, this is just another lever, another layer of punishment,” he explained. “An important part of this is that people know they are risking their vehicle by committing this crime again.”

Who to call

If you have been charged with felony DWI or you have lost your car under Drink and Drive, Lose Your Ride, contact the DWI attorneys at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria. The firm’s attorneys are well-versed in DWI laws both in Western New York and in all of New York State. They will accurately assess your situation and aggressively defend you against harsh penalties. For a thorough DWI defense, contact Lipsitz Green today.