Defenses Explained by Experienced Long Island DUI Defense Lawyers
If you are charged with DWI or a DUI in New York, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the prosecution’s job to prove that you are guilty of the offense charged, and you are entitled to present a strong defense on your behalf and to be represented by legal counsel of your choosing. Below is a look at just some of the many defenses which may be available in your case. For a free case evaluation after a Long Island DWI arrest, call 888-DUI-LAWYER to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced New York DUI attorney.
The Initial Stop was Improper
The police cannot simply pull over anyone they want just to see if they have been drinking. Police can only stop you if they have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you have broken the law, such as by committing a moving violation, having a non-working signal light, or through driving behavior that indicates intoxication or impairment. Many officers follow guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding signs that a person may be driving under the influence, but the NHTSA’s own guidelines admit that their signs of DUI only predict an intoxicated driver as little as 35% of the time. Your attorney may be able to show that the initial stop was improper, that you were detained longer than was reasonable for a traffic violation, or that you provided reasons which explained your appearance, behavior or driving. Facts such as these can be used in your defense at a trial for DWI.
Subjected to Subjective Roadside Testing
One of the ways police develop sufficient cause to arrest a person for DUI is to subject you to a series of “field sobriety tests.” These tests are supposed to be easily completed by a sober person yet difficult for a drunk person, but they actually can be quite difficult for lots of people for a number of reasons unrelated to intoxication. The “scoring” of these tests is left up to the subjective interpretation of the officer giving them. Many believe these tests are designed to be failed and are only given as a pretext to arrest a person and require them to take a chemical test.
If the basis for your arrest was your performance on a field sobriety test, your attorney may have a defense that your arrest was not based on sufficient cause. Likewise, police often administer a portable alcohol screen at the roadside. These handheld breath tests do not have the same level of accuracy as the breathalyzer used at the police station, and results of these portable tests are not admissible in court. They are just another way to give the police the opportunity to arrest you, and their use can be attacked in court if they form the foundation of your arrest.
Faulty Testing Equipment or Procedures
A variety of steps must be taken in the process of administering a chemical breath test of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For instance, the officer is supposed to observe you for a set period of time before giving the test, but often police do not wait the required amount of time, or they spend the time filling out paperwork rather than actually observing you as required. The machine itself should also be tested and calibrated regularly to make sure it is working properly, and there should be a record of the equipment’s inspection and maintenance. The results of a breath test can be attacked as invalid if the proper procedures were not followed.
You Were Not Legally Intoxicated
There are countless alternative explanations for why police or prosecutors claim you were legally intoxicated when you really weren’t. Having red, bloodshot eyes is a commonly-cited symptom of intoxication, yet it is also a common symptom of a cold, allergies or fatigue. There are many different types of food and beverages beside alcohol which can create the “odor of alcohol” often cited by police during their initial stop. Poor performance on a field sobriety test can be attributed to nervousness, fatigue, or simply poor coordination. A BAC over the legal limit may be due to the presence of mouth alcohol from a breath spray or mouthwash, testing soon after a drink before it has actually been absorbed into the body, or a false reading due to diet, fasting or diabetes. In all of these cases, a case can be made that the person arrested was not legally intoxicated, despite apparent evidence to the contrary.
Your Driving was Not Impaired
Having a BAC of .08% or more is enough for a per se Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge, but to be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), there must be additional evidence that your driving was actually impaired. This evidence is most often supplied by the police officer from personal observation, or from an anonymous tip phoned in by another driver. But an instance of bad driving, such as jerking the wheel or swerving, can be due to any number of reasons unrelated to intoxication, such as a momentary lack of attention or fatigue. Being followed for miles by a patrol car can be both nerve-wracking and distracting for a person who has just had only a drink or two, often leading to a driving mistake. An experienced DUI lawyer know how to examine a police officer on the witness stand and raise these important points.
Speak to a DUI Lawyer at 888-DUI-LAWYERS for Strong, Effective Defense of DWI in Long Island
After an arrest for DWI in Long Island, don’t plead guilty. Take control of your case and call 888-DUI-LAWYER for a free consultation on your case. You can call anytime of the day or night, and legal services are available in both Spanish and English for your convenience.