Hello and welcome back to the blog here at DuBois Law. Here on the blog, we like to disseminate available information to the good residents of New York, to keep you informed of your rights. We like to keep the people of WNY educated on their rights so we can navigate the legal system together. Today, let's take some time to talk about the DWI process here in New York!
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense. Being charged with DWI can result in severe legal and personal consequences. The best way to avoid these consequences is to never drink and drive. However, if you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, it's imperative you seek legal counsel right away. Remember, the end outcome of your case can be affected by the earliest interactions!
The stages of the DWI legal process can be complex, confusing and overwhelming. Each stage of the DWI process requires a deep understanding of the legal system to fight for your rights. That's why you need an experienced defense attorney on your side, by working with a skilled legal defense team and having an understanding of the process, you can set yourself up for better odds at success. Get in touch with Dan DuBois Law for a consultation regarding your case.
Probable Cause and Traffic Stops
The process for a DWI arrest starts with a police officer believing they have probable cause to pull you over for a traffic violation (if you disagree with their assertion, it's best to fight that battle in court). Probable cause includes (but is not limited to) swerving, speeding, driving at night with lights out, or running stop signs/red lights. Once the stop has been performed, they will begin investigating for other crimes, like DWI. Some examples of that investigation include looking for slurred speech, staggering steps, or the odor of alcohol.
The Field Sobriety Test and Breathalyzer
If the officer is suspecting that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs they will likely administer a field sobriety test next. Be aware though- Only 3 FSTs (field sobriety tests) are recognized as standardized, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, one-leg stand, and walk and turn test. Any other FSTs are non-standardized and inadmissible in court, however, police officers may still attempt to issue them while conducting their investigation.
Do I Need to Take A Field Sobriety Test?
Technically speaking, you do not need to perform a field sobriety test. Your NY driver's license only mandates you will submit to a chemical test, like breathalyzers. However, the prosecution may use that refusal to try and argue guilty conscious in court, making this a bit of a catch-22. The tests are designed to make you fail, so they can even be difficult for stone-cold sober people. It's usually better to refuse FSTs and have a defense strategy with your attorney for court. You want to minimize how much you give the police, who are trying to investigate you for a crime, while also being polite and cordial if you do refuse. A skilled defense attorney can attack this claim of guilty consciousness, spotlighting the need for a legal defense.
How About Breathalyzer Tests?
Breathalyzer tests are cheap and relatively reliable, which is why they've been a staple in police officers' belts for years. However, they're not infallible. Properly administered tests have a margin for error of 0.01, which can make it exceedingly difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt you were over the limit if you blew right on the .08 line. Sometimes, we can challenge the validity of the tests if they weren't properly administered, like if a field breath test is administered sooner than 20 minutes after being observed, but that is dependent on the specific facts of your particular case.
Depending on how the traffic stop goes, you may be arrested for DWI. When arrested, you'll be taken down to the station, where you'll be booked and processed. Your photo and fingerprints will be taken, and information entered into the system. You may be asked to take your first or another chemical test, where the results are more likely to stick in a controlled environment instead of with all the variables roadside. Under NY's implied consent law, if you refuse to take the breath test, you will likely immediately get your license suspended and face other penalties.
After arrest, you will be taken before a judge to be arraigned. Arraignment is a hearing where you'd be formally charged with a DWI. The judge will ask how you plead to the charges, with a guilty plea usually having sentencing rendered at that time. A not-guilty plea will then begin the trial process.
DISCLAIMER: PAST RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE FUTURE RESULTS, AND THE OUTCOME OF YOUR PARTICULAR CASE OR MATTER CANNOT BE PREDICTED USING A LAWYER'S OR LAW FIRM'S PAST RESULTS. EVERY HYPOTHETICAL SHARED HERE IS JUST THAT, AND ANY CASES REFERENCED ARE FOR INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL USE AND DO NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. EACH CASE IS UNIQUE AND SHOULD BE EVALUATED THROUGH A PHONE CALL OR MEETING WITH DANIEL DUBOIS, WITHOUT COMPARISON TO OTHER CASES WHICH MAY HAVE HAD DIFFERENT FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
Reach Out To DuBois Law Today!
Facing any charge is a stressful endeavor. If you or someone you know needs a criminal defense attorney, don't hesitate to reach out to DuBois Law. You're innocent until proven guilty.
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