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Buffalo New York Law Q & A

In this of section our website, we’ve answered hundreds of questions we’ve been asked over the years. So if you have a question, we might have the answer right here.

There are four ways to get an answer to your question.

One, type your question in the search box to the right and click “Search” – every page we have related to that question will then be shown.

Two, below and to the right, you’ll see a section called “Categories”. Just click the section related to your question and every page we have that is applicable to your question will be presented for your review.

Three, the links at the bottom of this page will take you to a web page that can answer many of the questions you might have.

And four, if we don’t have your answer here, or if you’d like to speak with us, feel free to call and arrange a free consultation – either on the phone or in-person.

We can be reached at 716-542-5444, or if the call is long distance, please call 1-800-729-4571.

A Buffalo driver who is arrested for DWI and took a breath test will, in almost all cases, have his or her driver’s license suspended at the first court appearance.

While the defendant is eligible for a conditional license after thirty days, many people have to be able to drive for work or school during that time period.

As a result, the law allows a court to issue a defendant a “hardship license” to fill this thirty day gap.

The statute authorizing the court to issue a hardship license requires that the defendant demonstrate extreme hardship, which is defined as the inability to obtain alternative means of travel to or from employment; a school, college or university where the defendant is enrolled; or necessary medical treatment for the defendant or a member of the defendant’s household.

When deciding if a particular defendant’s situation meets the definition of extreme hardship, factors the courts typically consider include

(1) the presence or absence of licensed persons in the defendant’s household;
(2) the ability of other licensed household members to provide transportation;
(3) the occupation and health condition of the defendant;
(4) the proximity of the defendant’s place of employment, health care provider or school to his or her household;
(5) the presence or absence of any public transportation or taxi service to or from the defendant’s household to the place of employment, health care provider or school;
(6) the defendant’s ability to afford public transportation or a taxi service; and
(7) the presence or absence of co-workers, friends or family members who may assist in transportation.

If you have been arrested for DWI, it is important that you be able to continue driving for essential activities such as work or school.

We can help you determine the best course of action to minimize the impact of your arrest on your ability to drive.

Please call us at (716) 542-5444.


When Is It Legal To Stop Someone At A DWI Checkpoint?

Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the New York Court of Appeals – the highest court in the state – both determined many years ago that the use of checkpoints or roadblocks by the police to randomly screen drivers is not necessarily a violation of a driver’s rights.

Many Buffalo area police agencies continue to use DWI checkpoints, especially around holidays or at other times when drunk drivers are most likely to be on the road.

While the courts have ruled that checkpoints are not illegal under all circumstances, they also have ruled that checkpoints must follow certain rules to legally stop a driver.

First, the DWI checkpoint must be operated under explicit regulations which limit the discretion of the officers regarding where the roadblock is located.

This basically means there must be rules about where the roadblock will be set up.

While roving checkpoints are permitted, there still must be some criteria setting forth how the sites are chosen and operated. An officer cannot just randomly decide to set up a roadblock and stop cars.

Second, the vehicles must be stopped according to wholly uniform and neutral criteria, such as stopping every car or every other car.

The police cannot randomly pull drivers out of line.

Third, once a car is pulled over, the officer’s initial inquiry must be brief and limited to questions regarding topics such as the driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance and proof of inspection.

Only if this initial observation leads to evidence that the driver may be intoxicated can the officer proceed further with any investigation.

When a driver is stopped at a checkpoint, an experienced DWI lawyer will look into how the roadblock was set up to determine if it was legal.

If you need help, call us at (716) 542-5444.

A Buffalo DWI defendant who is required to use an ignition interlock device and attempts to damage it or avoid its use is subject to serious criminal penalties.

Circumvention of an Interlock Device is a Class A Misdemeanor, which is a crime in New York State.

A person convicted of this offense may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to one year.

As an alternative to incarceration, the court may place the defendant under the supervision of the probation department for up to three years.

This may extend the period of probation already imposed for the DWI conviction.

If the court chooses to impose a jail term of 60 days or less, it has the option of placing the defendant on probation after he or she completes the jail sentence.

The court also may impose a fine of up to $1,000 in addition to, or in place of, a sentence of jail or probation.

There will also be a mandatory surcharge of $175 and a crime victim assistance fee of $25.

In addition to the penalties for the charge itself, the defendant is likely to be found in violation of the original sentence of probation or conditional discharge imposed by the court for the offense that led to the installation of the ignition interlock device.

A defendant found in violation of probation or a conditional discharge may be resentenced by the court and face additional penalties related to the original conviction.

Circumventing the ignition interlock device is also likely result in the defendant’s conditional driver’s license being revoked.

If you have been arrested for an alcohol-related driving offense and need legal help, we are experienced DWI attorneys. Call us at (716) 542-5444.


What Is Circumvention Of An Interlock Device?

New York’s requirement that defendants convicted of DWI have an ignition interlock device installed on all vehicles they drive is one of the biggest changes Buffalo criminal lawyers have seen to DWI law in recent years.

The ignition interlock device is a machine installed in the car that checks for alcohol on the breath of the driver.

The driver must blow into it before starting the car and periodically thereafter.

If alcohol is detected, the car will not start or will shut off.

New York State requires all drivers convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated or Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08% or Greater to have an ignition interlock device installed in any vehicle he or she will drive as a condition of any sentence of probation or conditional discharge imposed by the Court.

It is a crime for the convicted driver or anyone else to attempt to circumvent the ignition interlock device.

The law specifically prohibits a person who has lost driving privileges to ask or allow anyone else to blow into the interlock device for the purpose of providing the restricted driver with an operating vehicle.

It also prohibits physically tampering with or circumventing an operable ignition interlock device.

Perhaps most importantly for those convicted of DWI who must use such a device, it prohibits operating any motor vehicle that does not have the ignition interlock device installed.

In other words, borrowing someone’s car is subject to the same penalties as tampering with the device or getting someone else to blow into it.

If you have been arrested for DWI, we can help you understand the potential penalties and rules surrounding a conviction.

Please feel free to call us at (716) 542-5444 for legal help.


Do Rochester Judges Usually Give Custody To The Mother?

While the laws governing divorce and child custody matters in New York are gender neutral, courts care substantially about protecting the special bond that exists between children and their primary caregiver.

Because there are still disparities in workforce participation and earning power, men continue to play the majority of the role of breadwinner, while women are more likely to work fewer hours for lower pay and devote more time to child rearing.

Whether we reach a place where women have perfect parity or not, times are changing.

Judges in Rochester are specifically charged with considering the best interests of the child, and a strong petition arguing a valid case for paternal custody is one that can win.

When it comes to protecting your children, the attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer can help you.

Call us today at 585-377-5504 for a free consultation with a Rochester child custody expert.

If you’ve been out of the workforce for many years of your marriage, there are good odds that you will be entitled to extensive considerations in a Rochester divorce.

Maintenance, also known as alimony, will be a primary topic of discussion, and an award of temporary maintenance is likely to be made at the outset.

In addition, your spouse will likely to be ordered to pay some or all of your legal fees, and if you have been the primary caregiver to children, the court will defer to the strong bond and routine you have established in considering custody matters.

In short, you can expect that the court will try to ensure that you have the things you need to continue living comfortably after a divorce.

Working with an experienced divorce attorney is the best way to ensure that your needs are front and center when you divorce in Rochester.

Call Friedman & Ranzenhofer today at 585-377-5504 for a free consultation with an experienced Rochester divorce attorney.

In most cases, yes, you’ll be entitled to share in your spouse’s retirement benefits.

As a rule of thumb, the longer the marriage, the greater the share of benefits you’ll be awarded.

If you and your spouse are already retired and have had a long marriage, you can anticipate receiving a significant portion of your spouse’s pension in Buffalo.

In addition, you’ll be eligible to file for expanded Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work history, if their earnings exceeded your own.

It is possible to live well in retirement even after a divorce.

For help structuring a settlement that protects you, call the attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer today at 716-542-5444 and talk to an experienced Buffalo divorce attorney for free.

When you file for divorce on grounds like adultery in Buffalo, your final settlement figure is unlikely to be higher, but the costs related to your case almost certainly will be.

To prove adultery, you’ll be required to build a legal case against your spouse, which means time and money on the part of your attorney and others.

Since there’s no particular financial payoff you can expect for doing so, it’s much easier to file on Irretrievable Breakdown grounds, then show that your spouse misused funds in the course of adultery.

Your spouse will be required to repay the marriage for misused funds in either case, but under Irretrievable Breakdown, your costs – in time and money – are lower.

The attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer understand how important it is to hold the guilty party responsible for breaking a marriage.

Call us today at 716-542-5444 for a free consultation with experienced Buffalo divorce attorneys.


Who Gets The Custody Of Our Family Dog In A Buffalo Divorce?

Our pets have an increasingly powerful role in our lives, and even in families with children, they often hold a similar emotional place that the kids do.

In divorce, who gets the family dog or cat can be an extremely contentious matter, and one where judges in Buffalo have little guidance.

In the law, pets are regarded as chattel, and their fair market value is the chief concern under statute, but in the real world, our relationship to our pets is far more than monetary, and their value can’t be matched in dollars.

When facing decisions like who gets the pets, you should try to work out an arrangement with your spouse that you both can live with.

The attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer understand the central role that our animal companions play in our lives, and can help be a productive negotiating team as you develop agreements on even the most sensitive matters.

Call us today at 716-542-5444 for a free consultation with experienced Buffalo divorce attorneys.

When a Buffalo driver who is suspected of Driving While Intoxicated refuses to take a breath test to determine his or her blood alcohol content, there are penalties that may be imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles in addition to any charges brought in criminal court.

For a person with no prior drug or alcohol related driving offenses who refuses to take a breath test, these penalties are a driver’s license revocation of at least one year, a civil fine in the amount of $500 and payment of a Driver Responsibility Assessment in the amount of $250 per year for three years.

When a driver refuses to take the breath test and either previously had his or her driver’s license revoked for a prior refusal to take a chemical test within the past five years or had been convicted of Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol, Driving While Intoxicated, Driving with a .08% or Greater Blood Alcohol Content, Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs, Driving While Ability Impaired by the Combined Influence of Alcohol and Drugs, or Driving After Having Consumed Alcohol under the Age of 21 with the past five years, he or she is no longer considered a first time offender.

Under such circumstances, the penalties are increased to a driver’s license revocation of at least eighteen months and a civil fine of $750 (unless the underlying offense was Driving After Having Consumed Alcohol under the Age of 21, in which case the fine remains $500).

The Driver Responsibility Assessment of $250 a year for three years remains the same.

Refusing to submit to a breath test can have serious consequences outside of court. If you need an experienced DWI lawyer, we can be reached at 716-631-9999.