Police officers and prosecutors in New York take drinking and driving very seriously. A driving while intoxicated charge can have significant consequences. That’s why many drivers may be hesitant to agree to take a breathalyzer test when they’re pulled over by the cops. Here’s what you should know before you make that decision.
New York law, as in other states across the country, makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol intoxication is often determined based on blood alcohol content. A person is considered intoxicated under state law if he or she has a BAC of .08 percent or more. BAC levels can be measured using chemical blood, breath, urine and saliva tests.
A breathalyzer is a hand-held device that cops often used to measure a person’s BAC following a traffic stop. Users blow into the device, which estimates the blood alcohol content of the breath sample. Police officers typically use breathalyzer test to establish the probable cause necessary to arrest a suspected drunk driver and force the person to take a chemical BAC test.
A person who is pulled over by police and asked to take a breathalyzer has the right to refuse to do so. That decision comes with certain consequences, however. Anyone who declines to take a breathalyzer in New York is facing a $500 fine and a six-month suspension of driving privileges. If the same person is later declines to take a chemical BAC test, he or she is looking at a possible one-year license revocation and additional fines.
You can avoid those penalties if you can prove that the police officer who stopped you didn’t have reasonable suspicion pull of your car or to believe that you were intoxicated when he or she asked you to take the breathalyzer test. Cops are also required to warn DWI suspects that their refusal to take a breathalyzer or participate in a chemical test may result in fines and the loss of driving privileges.
It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s harder for cops and prosecutors to prove that a person is intoxicated without scientific evidence. A person who refuses a breathalyzer — and later turns down other chemical tests — leaves prosecutors with less direct evidence to use eventually secure a conviction.
If you or a loved one has been charged with drinking and driving in the Capital District, it is vital to seek the advice of an experienced Albany DWI defense attorney. A lawyer can help you weigh your options and start building the strongest possible defense, in some cases before you’ve even been charged with a crime.
James E. Tyner is an experienced attorney who has been representing clients in drinking and driving and other cases for more than a decade. Mr. Tyner has a strong track record of getting optimal results for the people that he represents. Contact us online or call 1-866-642-3807 to schedule a free consultation.