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Traveling this Summer? Know the Legal Requirements for Transporting Firearms

Millions of people will be traveling at some point this summer, whether by air, rail or automobile. As you are busy packing you’re probably thinking about your clothes, shoes and sunscreen. If you are one of the estimated 10% of New Yorkers who own a gun,[1] you may also be planning to travel with your weapon.

New York state law requires a license to purchase and carry a handgun, with different types of licenses granting specific permissions regarding where and how you can possess the weapon. (A license is not required—except in New York City— to purchase or possess rifles or shotguns.) While you exercise your Second Amendment right to bear arms, keep in mind the rules about how to safely and legally travel with your firearm.

Criminal possession of a weapon is a serious offense, so make sure you are informed. There are many complexities in the law regarding the possession of firearms and other weapons, covered under New York Penal Law §265 but this brief overview can help you understand some key aspects and provide links for more information.

Traveling by Air

Federal law prohibits firearms from carry-on luggage aboard an aircraft. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides guidance on what you can and cannot bring onboard, including the following:

  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock.
  • The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted.
  • Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.
  • Ammunition is prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage, and certain stipulations apply.
  • Specific guidelines exist for law enforcement officers flying armed.
  • You can contact TSA for more information, including sending them a question via social media to Facebook Messenger or Twitter.

Traveling by Rail

Amtrak allows firearms—including handguns, rifles and shotguns—on its trains, with certain restrictions.

Amtrak requires that any passenger checking firearms or ammunition provide notification no later than 24 hours before the train departs. Notification cannot be made online; individuals must call 800-USA-RAIL.

Be aware that if you are bringing firearms aboard, you’ll need to check them at least 30 minutes prior to departure, so plan accordingly.

Firearms must be unloaded and locked in an approved hard-sided container, for which there are specific size and weight restrictions. The traveler must have sole possession of the key or lock combination. In the case of a small container, it must be stored securely in a suitcase or other checked bag, but still needs to be declared.

Visit Amtrak  for more details and requirements about traveling with firearms.

Traveling by Automobile

In general, your license to carry a firearm is effective across New York state, meaning you can travel throughout the state legally, except for New York City, which requires specific permissions. There are other locations within the state where possession is prohibited or restricted. For example, firearms are only allowed on public campgrounds during the spring and fall hunting seasons, and are generally prohibited on Adirondack Mountain Reserve foot trails.

If you plan to travel outside of the state, the rules regarding interstate travel by vehicle with a firearm are governed by federal law [2], which states the following:

Notwithstanding any state or local law, a person shall be entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he may lawfully possess and transport such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and transport such firearm if the firearm is unloaded and in the trunk. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm shall be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

Note that there are some states that do not recognize a New York state firearm license. You should contact the office of the attorney general in the state(s) to which you will be traveling for details about the legal requirements.

Before you travel this summer, make sure you are informed about the firearms regulations in the jurisdictions you’ll be visiting to avoid violating any laws. If you have been charged with a firearms offense, we can help. At LaMarche Safranko Law we are completely versed in the defense of criminal firearms offenses and are committed to providing you with a full explanation of your options. Contact us for a free consultation at (518) 982-0770 or online.

[1] http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/injuryprev/early/2015/06/09/injuryprev-2015-041586.full.pdf?keytype=ref&ijkey=doj6vx0laFZMsQ2
[2]  United States Code Title 18 – Part I – Chapter 44 §926A

 

Motorcycle Accidents: Prevention and Response

If you are one of the more than 240,000 motorcyclists in New York, you are no doubt taking advantage of the longer days and (hopefully soon) warmer weather to get out for a ride. Maybe you’ll be heading to the Adirondacks this weekend for the 35th annual Americade in Lake George, or the 16th annual Warrensburg Bike Rally.

Regardless of where your bike takes you this summer, safety is always the top priority. Riding a motorcycle is riskier than driving a car, and the likelihood of injury in a motorcycle accident is greater than in a vehicle crash.

Stay vigilant and take some key precautions to minimize the chance of becoming an accident statistic.

 

Don’t drink and ride!

Driving any motorized vehicle under the influence is dangerous, but even more so on a motorcycle. Your balance, sensory perception and reflexes are affected when you are under the influence, leaving you more vulnerable to a crash. And if you do crash, it’s likely to be serious. Almost one-third of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2015 were legally drunk, with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Always wear your helmet.

Both motorcycle drivers and passengers are required by New York state law to wear a federally rated helmet and protective eyewear. According to the NHTSA, head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Wearing a helmet can save your life and minimize brain damage, with the NHTSA estimating that helmets are 67% effective in preventing brain injuries in a crash. Visit the www.helmetcheck.org  site to see if your helmet meets safety standards.

Drive defensively.

Seemingly minor road hazards such as potholes, uneven lanes and wet roads are not necessarily significant risk factors in a car, but on a motorcycle, they can become deadly. Two wheels are not as stable as four, so you need to be aware of the conditions at all times. Anticipate potential hazards—whether road related or due to other motorists around you—and be ready to take defensive measures.  Check out the NYS Motorcycle Safety Program, administered by the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, for information about safety courses you can take to brush up on your skills.

While prevention is always the goal, it is not always possible. Let’s look at some key actions you should take if you’ve been in a motorcycle accident.

  • If you are blocking the roadway, and can safely move off the side, do so.
  • In general, it’s best not to remove your helmet, or that of your passenger, since you don’t know the extent of any potential injuries.
  • Call 911. Provide statements only to law enforcement officers on the scene. If another driver is involved in the accident, do not provide any statements to their insurance company, or admit fault.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene and any damage or ask someone to do it for you and record as much detail as possible.
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. There may be time limits regarding filing claims.
  • Contact an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with motorcycle accident cases. New York’s No-Fault insurance does not apply to accidents involving motorcycles, so serious injury is not required to bring a lawsuit. Your attorney can guide you through the process, including commencing any potential legal action, or defending your rights if you are being charged in the accident.

At LaMarche Safranko Law, we appreciate the dangers that motorcyclists face while enjoying their passion and we advocate for those who are injured by other drivers. If you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle crash, contact us for a free consultation at (518) 982-0770 or online.

DMV warns of email traffic ticket scam

The NYS Department of Motor Vehicles issued a notice today warning consumers against an email “phishing” campaign that sends a notice to email users stating they must pay a ticket within 48 hours or their license will be revoked. While the notice is made to appear as if it comes from DMV, it is a hoax.

The fake email provides two links to either plead guilty or to refute the tickets. The links direct unsuspecting users to a malicious download that may expose your computer to a virus. 

If you receive one of these emails, delete the email immediately. Do not click on any links in the email and do not forward the email. 

First Offense DWI in New York? What You Need to Know

If you are charged with an alcohol-related offense—whether in a car, motorcycle, ATV, or other motor vehicle—the impact can be serious and far reaching. Consequences include fines, license restrictions, and possible jail time. It is important to understand the charges against you and know your rights.

Photo by: KOMUnews

Your first step should be to contact an experienced DWI attorney who can guide you through the legal process. Securing legal representation as soon as possible is critical, while the events of the arrest are still fresh in your mind, to ensure all the facts and evidence are obtained.

In New York state, misdemeanor DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is charged when a person operating a motor vehicle has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater. Law enforcement will also charge you with DWI if your BAC is:

  • 0.04% and you are driving a commercial motor vehicle
  • 0.02% and you are younger than 21 years old

Additional  charges relating to DWI include:

  • Misdemeanor Aggravated DWI –  charged when a person operating a motor vehicle has a BAC of .18 or greater

  • Felony Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle (aka Leandra’s Law) – charged when a person operating a motor vehicle has a BAC of .08 or greater and a child under the age of 16 is in the vehicle

If you are charged with DWI in New York state, you may be required by the judge to surrender your license at your first court appearance under New York’s prompt suspension law. However, you may be able to keep your license or obtain a hardship license. Your attorney can guide you through those options.

A first-time DWI conviction in New York is a misdemeanor criminal offense unless it’s charged under Leandra’s Law, in which case it is a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, your license will be revoked for a minimum of six months; if you are under age 21, your license will be revoked for one year. For a first-time Aggravated DWI or a Leandra’s Law violation, your license will be revoked for a minimum of one year.

Additionally, if you are a commercial driver, your commercial driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of one year whether or not you were convicted of a DWI while operating a commercial vehicle.

Photo by: Randy Heinitz

To obtain a New York state license after your revocation period, you will have to complete the process of applying for a brand-new license; you will not be able to simply reinstate your previous license.

Financial penalties for a DWI in New York are severe. For a first-time DWI offense, you will be charged up to $1,000 in court fines, with another $370 in surcharges. Aggravated DWI court fines can be up to $2,500 with nearly $400 in surcharges, and Aggravated DWI/Leandra’s Law will cost up to $5,000 in fines plus almost $500 in surcharges.

In addition, there is a mandatory DMV Driver Assessment Penalty—regardless of the type of conviction—of $750. If you are eligible to participate in the Impaired Driving Program, it will cost $300, plus other related fees.

 

Photo by: Rsheram

If you were convicted of DWI, Aggravated DWI or Aggravated DWI/Leandra’s Law, you must also pay approximately $100 to install the ignition interlock device plus approximately $100/month for maintenance, which is typically required for a minimum of one year, although application for early removal can be made if you have no prior New York DWI convictions.

For more information about DWI-related issues, visit our FAQ page and contact us for a no-obligation consultation. At LaMarche Safranko, we are experienced New York DWI lawyers, so let us put our skill to work for you and help protect all your rights.

 

Boating and Alcohol/Drugs Don’t Mix

The issues surrounding boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs have been highlighted recently with a local case that has garnered much attention. And as we head toward the summer season, with many people taking their boats out on the rivers and lakes in our area, the topic of boating safety becomes very important.

While the dangers–and consequences–of drinking and driving a car are well known, this is not generally the case with drinking and boating. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Drinking alcohol on open water can quickly impair one’s balance, coordination, and judgment. Boats rock, sway, and have very little protection from the elements. Coupled with the heat from the sun and glare from the water, people on boats become tired much more quickly. Consuming alcohol can affect inner ear balance too, making it impossible for a person who falls into the water to distinguish up from down. Alcohol also creates a false sense of warming, which may prevent a person in cold water from getting out before hypothermia sets in.

Another factor impacting one’s ability to operate a boat is experience. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, recreational boaters average only 110 hours on the water per year. Contrast that with a study by AAA indicating we spend approximately 280 hours per year in our cars, and it’s clear that we get much less practice operating a boat than driving a vehicle. That lack of experience can have serious consequences while out on the water, especially if alcohol or drugs are mixed into the equation.

The safety concerns alone are reason enough to avoid boating under the influence, but if you need more deterrence, consider the legal and financial consequences. Boating while intoxicated is a crime in New York state. If you are arrested for operating a boat with a BAC of .08 or higher, you may be charged with boating while intoxicated, which is a misdemeanor criminal offense. You could be subject to up to one year in jail, fined up to $1,000, and have your privilege to operate a vessel suspended for one year.

So, before you head out onto the water this season, act responsibly, and be sure you know how to operate the boat safely. New York state law requires that anyone born after May 1, 1996, successfully complete an approved course in boater education in order to operate a motorboat. There are several classes coming up in our area later this month and in June, so take advantage of these opportunities to refresh your skills, or learn some new ones. To find a certified boating safety course near you, check out the schedule at the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website

And remember, if you will be consuming alcohol on a boat, make sure you have a designated sober operator. Let’s make the 2017 boating season a safe one!

For more information on boating safety in New York, visit NYS Parks online.

Contact LaMarche Safranko Law for any questions regarding legal issues related to boating safety and operation.

How Many Margaritas are Too Many? Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Responsibly

May 5 is Cinco de Mayo, more formally known as the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, which celebrates a Mexican victory in 1862 over the French. Of course, nobody is thinking about Napoleon and military strategy on this day: Cinco de Mayo has become synonymous with partying and enjoying Mexican food and drinks. But before you head out to your local cantina for a few margaritas, take a minute to plan ahead so you can celebrate responsibly.

In New York State, you are considered legally impaired with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than .05 percent, and intoxicated with a BAC .08 or higher. Your BAC depends on how much alcohol you drink, how much you weigh, and how much time passes between each drink. A common misperception is that different types of drinks can affect you differently, so drinking a beer, for example, will impact you less than a shot of whiskey. This is not true. Twelve ounces of beer contains about the same amount of alcohol as one and a half ounces of whiskey. It’s the amount of alcohol, not the type, that determines your BAC. And be aware that many mixed drinks can contain the equivalent of two or more drinks in a single cocktail. So, when you are sipping your margarita at the cantina, keep in mind that a typical margarita, based on recipes in common bartender’s guides, is actually the equivalent of almost two drinks, with a 33 percent alcohol content.

A person’s body weight is also a factor in how alcohol is processed in their system. Someone who is petite will feel the effects of alcohol sooner than someone who weighs more because there is less body tissue to absorb the alcohol.

In general, your liver breaks down one unit of alcohol per hour. So obviously, the more drinks you have per hour, the more likely you are to feel the effects of alcohol.

Check out the National Institutes of Health for some tools to calculate just how much alcohol is in your drink, and how it’s affecting your body.

It only takes a few drinks to increase your BAC to levels that make it illegal to drive. And if you are charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), or driving while ability impaired (DWAI), the consequences can be serious and far reaching.

DWI is charged when a person operating a motor vehicle has a (BAC) of .08 or greater. Note, DWI can also be charged if BAC is .04 and the operator is driving a commercial motor vehicle, or a BAC of .02 and the operator is under 21. In New York, the first DWI conviction received is a misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense.

DWAI is charged when a person operating a motor vehicle has a BAC less than .08. A DWAI is a violation, which is not a criminal offense. A person convicted of a first-time DWI faces up to one year in jail or three years’ probation. A DWAI conviction could result in up to 15 days in jail.

The financial impact is severe too. For a first-time DWAI offense, you’re looking at up to $500 in court fines plus another $250 in surcharges. For first-time DWI offense, it’s up to $1,000 in fines, with another $370 in surcharges.

So, know your limit, and celebrate responsibly this Cinco de Mayo.

If you have questions or need help regarding an alcohol-related matter, LaMarche Safranko Law can help. We are experienced New York DWI attorneys, with more than 25 years’ combined legal experience and we know how to represent you. We’ll bring our nationally recognized reputation, legal experience, and client compassion to your case as we guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected.