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Can I waive my appearance at my arraignment for a DWI?
Today I appeared in Brighton Town Court, representing a client on a DWI charge. My client lives out of state, so I asked the judge to waive his appearance.
In Monroe County, these types of appearance waivers are granted pretty regularly for defendants who don't live in New York. The thing that made this request different was that:
(1) I requested an appearance waiver at an arraignment;
(2) it's a DWI arraignment.
Judges typically want defendants present at arraignments, because it is when defendants are read the charges against them, and when many of their rights are explained. New York's Criminal Procedure Law allows defendants to waive their right to appear at arraignment, but that doesn't mean the judge has to accept the waiver.
I try to increase the likelihood that a judge will grant our request for an appearance waiver by having our client sign a detailed affidavit before a Notary Public. The affidavit outlines the pending charges, states the many rights our client possesses (so that the judge knows the defendant is informed), and it grants us the power to enter a not-guilty plea on our client's behalf.
In DWI cases, judges also want defendants to appear because the judge usually needs to seize the defendant's drivers license. In the case of an out-of-state license holder, however, there is no license seizure.
In this instance, our request was granted. The judge accepted the appearance waiver and it saved our client hundreds of dollars in airline tickets and hotel rooms.
If you are facing a DWI charge in Rochester, but you live out of state and need to choose a local lawyer, call The Militello Law Firm for a free consultation by phone. My number is (585) 485-0025.