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NYC DWI defense attorneyPenalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New York are steep, but many experts do not believe that the foundation of about a million convictions a year, the alcohol breath test, is anywhere near consistent enough to ensure guilt in many cases. If you were pulled over and are going to court for a DWI or DUI, it is important to have outstanding legal assistance to properly contest the potentially erroneous readings of a breath test. A lot is on the line, and strong legal defense from an experienced DWI attorney could help you avoid the fines, jail sentences, and license revocations that accompany a conviction.

Lack of Regulation and Flawed Results

A New York Times investigation in 2019 exposed the many faults not just of alcohol breath tests, but also of the regulations that are supposed to help guarantee their accuracy and of the labs where the tests are processed. Even though a million Americans are arrested for drunken driving each year, over 30,000 breath tests were discarded by courts in just a year. Many of those tests were inaccurate and led to wrongful convictions, while a portion could have acquitted dangerous drivers. The Times investigation showed that the technicians who analyze the tests often lack experience and that lack of oversight has resulted in countless improperly calibrated machines. In one of the worst scenarios, a Massachusetts analyzer machine had rats nesting inside.

Also, many experts found the breath analyzer machines themselves to be flawed. Most of the companies that manufacture them do not allow the public to purchase them, so it has been difficult for investigators to get a good look at the machines. Experts in the Times investigation reported that the code in some of these machines does not just have some errors, but thousands. 

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New York DWI defense attorneysWhen a motorist is pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the police officer may administer a series of field sobriety tests in order to decide whether or not the driver is impaired or drunk. These tests can help an officer determine a driver's coordination and ability to understand directions. Since law enforcement will often use these assessments to decipher probable cause, citizens often believe their reliability. However, multiple factors can lead to an incorrect conclusion. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI, it is important to understand your rights and speak to an experienced attorney.   

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

In order to determine a driver’s level of sobriety, police officers may utilize a variety of different evaluations. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are three main tests used by law enforcement:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: The driver will be asked to put their feet together and keep their hands by their side. While keeping their head still, the driver will be asked to follow a stimulus (pen, pencil, light) with their eyes only. The police officer will be looking for any variation of the instructions, as well as any involuntary jerking of the eyes, which may be more pronounced when a person is intoxicated. 
  • Walk and Turn Test: The motorist will be asked to place their left and right foot on an imaginary or marked line, and to walk straight, touching heel to toe. Specific instructions will be given on how the motorist should conduct his or her turning motion. The walk and turn test can help determine coordination and ability to follow instructions.
  • One-Leg Stand Test: The driver will be instructed to keep both arms at their side while raising one leg, six inches in the air. The driver will have to count out loud until instructed to stop. This test will help determine the balance and ability to understand instructions.  

Field Sobriety Test Statistics

The NHTSA’s own statistics prove that field sobriety tests are not always accurate. Out of these three tests, the NHTSA indicated that that the HGN test is the most accurate in determining whether or not a driver is intoxicated. Looking into the statistics, the administration estimates that when the tests are administered correctly:

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Posted on in DWI

New York DWI Defense AttorneyFor those who have experienced the consequences of driving while intoxicated firsthand or know someone who has, it comes as no surprise that there are serious penalties for the decision to drive drunk. These penalties only intensify when there is a repeated offense, and these effects have the power to wreak substantial havoc on the offender’s reputation, home life, and finances. When it comes to being accused of driving while intoxicated (DWI), however, certain tactics the police may use may create circumstances that stack all the odds against you, leaving little room for your defense. This can be especially difficult if you already have an existing DWI on your record. 

How Are Repeat DWI Offenses Addressed?

Unlike an offense of driving while ability impaired (DWAI), which implies your blood alcohol content level (BAC) is at least 0.05 but no more than 0.07 and that your driving ability is impaired, a DWI indicates a higher BAC and that you are intoxicated. Two or more of these heightened DWI violations can quickly demolish a driver’s record. The penalties for the variety of alcohol and drug-related violations here in the state of New York are diverse, ranging from hefty mandatory fines and the loss of driving privileges to jail terms. Repeat offenses are treated as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances, and the penalties are determined based on the number of repeat offenses within specific periods of time. 

For example, a second DWI violation within a ten-year timeframe results in a Class E felony with fines up to $5,000 and a maximum jail term of up to four years, while a third DWI violation is deemed a Class D felony with fines up to $10,000 and a maximum jail term of seven years. As you can see, the fines and jail time increase as the repeat offenses pile up. If you are facing accusations of multiple DWI offenses, here are some other general penalties you can expect to come up against:

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Brooklyn DWI defense attorney out of state arrestIt is not uncommon for a New York resident to get arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) while driving in another state. However, most people do not understand the consequences of an out-of-state DWI on their life in New York.

An out-of-state DWI conviction can affect many aspects of your life, including:

  • Your New York driver’s license
  • Your current and future employment, particularly in civil service jobs
  • Professional licensure, if you are a healthcare professional or work in another occupation that requires a state-issued license
  • Your auto insurance rates
  • A criminal record that will appear on background checks

For the purposes of this article, the term DWI includes driving while ability impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. 

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