When facing a possible drunk driving conviction, an individual would be wise to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney. Like many criminal defense matters, the legal requirements related to prosecuting a DWI case are more complex than many people realize and there are a number of facts and factors that may either negatively or positively impact one’s case.
For example, a police officer cannot just randomly pull a driver over without having just cause to do so. A legal principle known as reasonable suspicion centers on the fact that a police officer must have a good reason to pull a driver over. For example, in cases where a police officer notices that a driver’s vehicle is drifting into an adjacent traffic lane, straddling the center line, traveling too slow or fast or braking frequently; such activities would likely warrant a traffic stop.
If a stopped driver is subsequently believed by a police officer to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, an officer may request that a driver submit to a series of field sobriety tests. Based upon the results of these tests, an officer may or may not then have probable cause to arrest and change a driver with DWI.
When asked to submit to a field sobriety and/or Breathalyzer test, a driver has the right to refuse such a test. Under New York’s drunk driving laws, a driver who is suspected of drunk driving and refuses to submit to a breath, urine or blood chemical test is subject to a civil penalty in the amount of $500. Additionally, a refusal will result in a driver losing his or her driver’s license for at least 12 months. The penalties increase with subsequent chemical test refusals that occur within a five-year timeframe.
While the penalties related to a chemical test refusal may seem harsh, in some cases, refusing to take a breath, urine or blood test may actually be in a driver’s best interest. Therefore, in the event a driver is pulled over in a routine traffic stop, he or she should never feel pressured or forced into submitting to any other these tests.
Source: FindLaw.com, “What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?,” Feb. 1, 2016
New York State, “Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations,” Feb. 1, 2016