Drunk driving is a very serious charge that not only incurs fines, license revocation and even jail time, but can also affect your lifestyle, reputation, and further prospects in your career. For all that celebrities are often on the news about being caught drunk-driving and trash-talking the arresting police officer, it’s not something you can just shrug off.
Thus, it’s vital to note how and why an officer can stop your vehicle for drunk driving. New York drunk driving has particularly harsh terms so if stopped be sure not to do anything that will impact your defense. Here are some reminders and guidelines that a New York DWI Lawyer might recommend.
1) There Must Be Probable Cause To Stop Your Vehicle.
To be stopped for driving while intoxicated, you must first show the signs of being drunk. If you behave in a way that show you’re not hampered by blood alcohol (which is possible, since people have different levels of alcohol tolerance) then there’s no problem.
If you start violating traffic laws, speeding, or drive too slowly or erratically, then a police officer may stop your vehicle and then have clear reason to test if your judgment is impaired. Thus, the best way to avoid being stopped is simply not to give a police officer a reason to be suspicious.
The police officer looks for distinct symptoms to determine if you’re drunk. If you have red, watery eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol breath, you will undergo a test on the scene. Refusal to do so is grounds for an arrest as a precaution to take a potentially dangerous driver out of the road.
2) Tests To Determine If You’re Drunk
The Field Sobriety Test is the first test performed to determine if you are drunk. It involves tests such as checking your eyes for horizontal or lateral jerking (nystagmus test), reciting the alphabet forward and backwards, stability test to check if you can stand on your feet together, with arms on the side and head tilted back.
Part of the field sobriety test is for the police officer to provide you with certain instructions and will ask for you to walk in a straight line, turn around and walk back towards him. As directed by the officer as well, you will be tested to stand with your feet together, have your head tipped a little backward, close your eyes and with your index finger, touch your nose.
All of these tests are recorded so it is very important for you to stay calm, cooperative and respectful throughout the entire period. Passing the field sobriety test is enough to get you back on the road.
B. The Breathalyzer Test
Since the field sobriety test does not ultimately measure your alcohol level, there are gaps in which you may have other physical or mental condition resulting for you to fail this initial test. A more accurate means of reading your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is through the breath test.
This involves the equipment known as the Breathalyzer. Breathing into the device will determine if your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level is above the legal limit of 0.08%. For minors, the legal limit is 0.02%.
If your impaired condition isn’t caused by blood alcohol but instead through prescription or illegal drugs, then you will be required to take a chemical blood test, which can be administered in a health or detainment center.
C. The Chemical Test
For this test, they will analyze your urine and blood samples to determine if your BAC is .08 or higher. You will be officially charged with Driving While Intoxicated if you hit the mark, or with Driving While Under Influence/Ability Impaired if the BAC is more than 0.04% or narcotics are present in your chemical test results.
Having BAC content of .08 or higher doesn’t automatically get you convicted for DUI, this is the reason why you should acquire the help of a New York DWI Lawyer as soon as possible to help you formulate strong defense against conviction.
3) Consequences For Refusing To Comply With Tests
Breathalyzer tests may deliver false positives, due to certain products that increase alcohol content in breath without being in the blood; mouthwash and some perfumes, for example. You do have the right to politely refuse to take a brethalyzer test without voiding your license. This will get you arrested and brought in to take a chemical test, which may clear you for a lesser charge.
The consequence for refusal to take the chemical test is severe. New York has an Implied Consent Law that imposes an automatic 1-year license suspension and $300 civil penalty for refusal. Compare this to the license suspension period for being convicted of DWI is only six months. The prosecution may use this refusal as a point that you were willingly aware of being drunk on the wheel.
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