New York City Field Sobriety Tests

In any case of driving while ability impaired by drugs (DWAI-Drugs) or intoxicated by alcohol (DWI), the arrest process remains largely the same. During the course of a traffic stop, the police may, if they suspect a possible DWI infraction, ask a suspect to step out of his or her vehicle to perform a series of tests to determine whether there exists probable cause for arrest.

The first to be performed are commonly field sobriety tests and may consist of the officer requesting you, the motorist, to perform a series of physical acts in order to assess whether your physical coordination, or lack thereof, is commensurate with a state of intoxication due to alcohol or drugs. The physical acts requested during a field sobriety test can vary by precinct and even the preferences of the directing officer, but they’re usually consistent with what we, as motorists, have to come to expect: point finger-to-nose, walk-and-turn in a straight line, stand on one leg, et cetera. Then, depending upon how well these physical coordination tests are performed, the directing officer may request for you to breath into a small portable device known as an Alco-Sensor.

An Alco-Sensor, while technically considered a breath test, should not be confused with a Breathalyzer or other similar chemical test that are used to determine blood alcohol content (BAC). Rather, it is used by officers to screen for the presence or non-presence of alcohol on your breath. If your performance on these series of tests suggest to the officer that you were, in fact, driving while intoxicated or with impaired ability due to drugs he will make an arrest and transport you to the precinct for the measurement of your blood alcohol content.

If you are arrested, you will be advised of your Miranda rights by the officer. These Miranda rights are that you have the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent – and that anything you say to the police can be used against you in your criminal case. You should never disclose anything incriminating to the police such as how much you had to drink, how much you had to eat prior to drinking, etc. Once arrested, you should immediately ask to speak with a New York City DWI attorney. They will advise you how you should proceed during your DWI processing, especially on the issue of whether you should submit to a breath test.

DWI Arrests in New York City

What many top New York City DWI lawyers know but what is generally not revealed to suspects by law enforcement is that, throughout this entire ordeal, motorists in New York retain the right to refuse to participate in a field sobriety test. Under New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law, this includes the chemical breath test performed at the precinct to determine blood alcohol content. VTL § 1194 (2), (b). Unlike refusals of field sobriety tests, however, a refusal of a chemical breath test at the precinct is both a violation of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law and can result in the immediate suspension of driving privileges within the state. The combination of which may, in the appropriate case, counsel against the decision to refuse. As a result, the New York Court of Appeals has held that individuals suspected of driving while intoxicated have the right to consult with an attorney over the phone at the precinct when deciding whether to submit to, or refuse ,a chemical breath test. People v. Shaw, 72 N.Y.2d 1032 (1988).

Schedule Your Free Consultation With the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman Today

If you do decide to contact a lawyer, make sure they are a skilled New York City DWI attorney. Our DWI defense lawyers are both experienced and knowledgeable in this field of law and are available at all times of the day to ensure any decision you make when confronted with the decision to refuse or submit to a chemical breath test is fully informed. Speak to one of the attorney’s at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman at (212) 581-1001 today for a free consultation.

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