Being pulled over for suspected DWI/DUI can be frightening and stressful. (It can be a very frightening and stressful experience when you’re pulled over for suspected DWI/DUI.) Driving while intoxicated or impaired by drugs is a serious misdemeanor in New York, and it may (even) be a felony when someone (else) is seriously injured, killed, or you have prior DWI misdemeanor convictions. (property is destroyed).
(The seriousness of this situation underscores the importance of knowing how to handle it.) (Unfortunately, ) The wrong decisions made during this time can turn (snowball) into life-altering consequences (that you may otherwise never have to endure. ) Keep reading to learn more about what you should do when you’re stopped for DWI/DUI on Long Island.
Stay Calm & Cooperative
It’s important to remain calm and cooperative when a police officer conducts an intoxicated driving investigation. Don’t take it personally – if you aren’t intoxicated, (chances are) the police officer may have pulled you over for a traffic violation and noticed alcohol on your breath. Alcohol on your breath doesn’t mean you are intoxicated, it just gives the officer an excuse to inquire more. (noticed something about your driving behavior that seemed unusual and wants to ensure you, your passengers, and everyone else on the road is safe.)
You can avoid complications with the investigation by keeping your hands visible at all times and refraining from reaching for your wallet or purse until the police officer requests your documents. The officer will likely ask you for your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, which you are required to provide. They may also ask you biographical questions that can be found on these documents, which you’re also obligated to provide. Failure to provide these documents or answer these questions can result in additional criminal charges.
Remember Your Right to Remain Silent
You are not required to answer any questions a police officer asks that may be used to arrest or convict you whether you’re under investigation or were arrested.
(For example, )You don’t need to answer any question (tell) asked by a police officer OTHER THAN PEDIGREE. Do not answer questions about (if you were recently) recent drinking, where you’re coming from, or where you’re going. Politely decline to answer these questions and remind the officer that it’s your constitutional right to do so.
Remember Your Right to an Attorney
You (also) have the constitutional right to legal counsel during any police questioning. This means that you should not only invoke your right to remain silent, but you should politely request your attorney be present during any police questioning.
Should I Take a Breath Test?
You should never agree to take a breath test when you aren’t under arrest UNLESS YOU HAVE NOT BEEN DRINKING. If you are merely being detained, any breath test conducted is preliminary in its nature, and it is only a traffic infraction to refuse the roadside breath test. (you won’t face consequences for declining.) Taking a breath test depends on how much you had to drink, when you drank and if you have prior alcohol offenses.
The purpose of the preliminary breath test is to establish probable cause to arrest you for DWI/DUI, after which the police may conduct an evidentiary breath test in the precinct. The second test is required under New York’s implied consent law, which states that all who hold a state driver’s license agree to submit samples of their breath and/or blood upon arrest for DWI to determine their intoxication level.
There are no criminal consequences for refusing to take the evidentiary breath test, but you will incur an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, which may become a one year revocation. This will happen and remain in effect even if you are never charged or convicted of intoxicated driving by the DMV.
Ultimately, you should consult with an attorney for guidance on taking a breath test or not so that you can weigh your options and make an informed decision.
Do I Have to Perform a Field Sobriety Test?
You are not obligated to perform any field sobriety test requested by a police officer, and there are no legal consequences for such a refusal. A field sobriety test is one or more activities an officer will direct you to perform, which can involve standing on one leg and counting, walking paces, or following a moving object with your eyes. The purpose of these tests is to determine if a driver is intoxicated, but they often generate false positives. You must be aware of your coordination to determine your participation in these exercises.
(For example, someone with a disability may not be able to perform any of the balance tests without failing. If you suffer from arthritis or an old injury, you could have a difficult time performing these tasks, which could be misinterpreted as signs of intoxication. It can also be difficult to perform tests due to uneven pavement, potholes, and other obstacles that even someone without a disability could struggle with.)
(For these reasons,) It’s a good idea to decline to perform any field sobriety exercise offered if you believe you cannot perform well, and agree if you are sober and physically healthy to do them. (to avoid escalating your encounter with the police.)
When Should I Contact a DWI Lawyer?
If you are arrested for (were charged with a) DWI, contact a lawyer as soon as possible, and certainly before taking a breath test in the precinct. It can be difficult to know when you need legal help and where to turn for support in this situation, but reach out to a legal professional before engaging with police investigators.
At Laurence A. Silverman & Associates, we provide experienced representation for clients facing DWI/DUI charges. We understand the seriousness of these charges, and our attorneys are here to help you understand your rights, options, and the defense strategies available.
For more information about how we can help, contact us online.