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Articles Posted in DWI/DWAI

Recently, an appellate court in New York ruled on a defendant’s appeal in a case involving assault, manslaughter, and reckless endangerment. The defendant in this case argued that the search warrant leading officers to incriminating evidence against him was invalid and that his guilty verdict should be reversed. On appeal, the court disagreed, deciding that the warrant was valid and that the officers did indeed have probable cause to search the defendant. The defendant’s appeal was ultimately denied.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving early one morning in March 2015 when he collided head-on with a tractor-trailer. Police reports indicated that the defendant had been driving in the opposite direction of traffic at 75 miles per hour and that he had consumed several alcoholic beverages before driving. Tragically, two of the passengers in the defendant’s car died from injuries sustained in the accident.

A police officer then applied for a warrant to gain access to the defendant’s blood vials that had been drawn immediately after the accident. The criminal court issued the warrant, and the officer confirmed that the defendant was intoxicated while operating his vehicle.

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In a recent opinion from a New York appellate court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his convictions of attempted assault in the second degree and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol. The defendant argued that the blood sample the State used as evidence against him was both based on an invalid search warrant and was inadmissible in court. Disagreeing with the defendant on both arguments, the court denied the appeal and affirmed the guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant had been charged with violating a traffic law in New York one evening in 2017. In connection with the accident that occurred as a result of the defendant’s violation, he was taken to the hospital and his blood was drawn for medical purposes. One month later, while investigating the original violation, the State applied for and was granted a search warrant and order of seizure for the defendant’s blood sample. After examining and testing the blood sample, officers discovered that the defendant had been intoxicated at the time of the traffic violation.

Based on this information, the defendant was charged, convicted, and sentenced to time in prison.

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In a recent New York DWI  case coming out of the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest Court, the defendant lost his appeal challenging the court’s previous decision to take away his license. Previously, the defendant had refused a chemical test when an officer pulled him over for a DWI. Because of this refusal, the New York State Department of Motor vehicles (NY DMV) revoked his license. The defendant argued on appeal that he had every right to refuse the officer’s request to test him because more than 2 hours had lapsed between the arrest and when he refused the test, but the court disagreed and affirmed the original decision.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was arrested for driving while intoxicated in 2016. About three hours after police officers arrested the defendant, the officers warned the defendant that there would be consequences if he decided not to consent to a chemical test. Despite this warning, the defendant refused the test.

In New York, drivers charged with a DWI are subject to something called the two-hour rule, which says that a driver who appears drunk must be tested either within two hours of the time of the arrest or the time of a positive breath screening test. Because of this law, the defendant’s refusal to submit to a test resulted in another hearing, during which the court had to decide whether or not to take away his license.

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An arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI) can be a serious charge with serious consequences in the event of a conviction. If an intoxicated driver also injures another person in an accident while driving under the influence, they may be charged with criminal assault as well as the DWI offense. Because of the serious implications that both DWI and violent crime charges can have on one’s record, it is important for people charged with such crimes to mount a strong legal defense from the start. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York recently addressed an appeal by a man who was convicted of DWI and assault charges after being involved in a head-on collision while allegedly intoxicated.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant was arrested after he was involved in a crash where he crossed over a double yellow line and struck another vehicle, seriously injuring the occupants. After consenting to a blood test, the defendant was found to have a blood alcohol content in excess of the legal limit, and he was charged with DWI and assault offenses. The defendant attempted to suppress the results of the blood test, arguing that there was no warrant or probable cause for the officer to draw his blood. The appellate court rejected the defendant’s arguments, finding that he had consented to the blood draw and no warrant was needed. The defendant also appealed his conviction on other grounds, which were not addressed by the court because his trial counsel did not make the appropriate objections to preserve those arguments for appellate review.

Trial judges who make legal errors that violate the rights of defendants can be reversed by appellate courts if the proper procedures are followed. One requirement for a ruling to be reversed on appeal is that the ruling was objected to at the lower level. When a criminal defense attorney fails to properly object to an erroneous trial court decision, their client may not be able to get the appropriate relief, even on appeal. Rather, it is essential that a trial attorney “preserve” an issue for appeal by making a timely objection during the trial.  Because of this, it is essential for defendants to retain experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense counsel as early in the process as possible.

Recently, a New York court considered a defendant’s appeal that too much time had elapsed between his DWI charges and the date of the trial that resulted in his guilty verdict which was a violation of his statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights.  The defendant argued that his original guilty verdict should be overturned because his trial was unreasonably delayed. The court considered the defendant’s appeal and decided it did not have enough evidence to make an informed decision on the matter at hand. Thus,  the higher court sent the case back to the lower court to consider the speedy trial issue which was never raised in the lower Court.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving in March 2017 when he was pulled over by a police officer. The officer asked the defendant to step out of his car and perform a variety of field sobriety tests. The defendant performed poorly, and he was taken into custody. Tests revealed that the defendant’s blood alcohol content was .13%. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated and one count of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree.

Many of our clients who are charged in New York DWI cases are  confused by the differences in the two tests that they may have been offered by the police. Very  often, police officers will offer a portable breath test (PBT) to a motorist on the side of the road to help them determine whether there is probable cause to arrest someone for DWI.  The refusal to take such test is punishable by a traffic infraction which can result in 2 points being assessed on your driver’s license.  After a person is arrested for DWI they will be offered the opportunity to take a chemical test by either blood, breath or urine.  The refusal to take that test is very serious and can result in a revocation of a person’s driver’s license for a minimum period of one year.

Prosecutors seeking to introduce scientific or technical evidence in a criminal trial have a burden to prove that the evidence is reliable enough to put before a jury. Jurors are not expected to be familiar with the technical specifications of alcohol and drug testing equipment, and prosecutors must show that the methods used by law enforcement to obtain evidence are generally accepted by the relevant scientific community in order to introduce test results as evidence at trial. A New York criminal trial court recently published a decision denying a prosecutor’s request to admit the test results of a portable breath test (PBT) in a defendant’s DUI trial.

In the recently addressed case, the defendant was charged with a DUI offense after he was pulled over by law enforcement officers for violating traffic laws. After he was stopped and the officer claimed to observe signs of intoxication, officers administered a PBT to the defendant, which suggested his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. As a result of the PBT results, the defendant was arrested and charged with a DUI. Notably, a second non-portable breath or blood test was not administered to the defendant while he was at the police station.

One of the most common defenses to a New York DWI offense is challenging the admissibility of the government’s evidence. When police officers investigate someone for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they must respect the constitutional rights of the motorist. For example, a police officer cannot pull over a driver for no reason; they must have either probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that an offense occurred. Similarly, police officers cannot ask that every driver take a breathalyzer without justification. If a police officer exceeds the bounds of their authority, any evidence they recovered cannot be admitted at trial.

However, if you wish to challenge the admissibility of evidence, it is imperative that you do so in a timely manner. In a recent case, a New York appellate court rejected a defendant’s appeal because he failed to raise his objections to the admissibility of evidence in a pre-trial motion to suppress.

In that case, the defendant was arrested and charged with two DWI-related offenses. The arrest occurred after police officers used a radar gun to determine the defendant was speeding. As officers approached the car, they identified the smell of alcohol and noticed that he had bloodshot eyes. Officers asked the defendant had been drinking, and he responded that he drank two beers. The officer called backup, who administered a breath test, indicating the defendant was intoxicated.

One of the benefits of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is that your attorney will often be able to work out a deal with the prosecution. Negotiated plea agreements vary widely, depending on the circumstances, however, the general idea is that you should receive a benefit for accepting responsibility and not making the government take the case to trial.

In some cases, a negotiated plea agreement, or a plea bargain, will result in certain charges being withdrawn. In other situations, the charges remain, but a more favorable sentence is agreed upon. A third option is a conditional plea agreement.

In a conditional plea agreement, you enter a guilty plea on all charges that are a part of the agreement. In addition, you agree to fulfill certain conditions within a specified period of time. In exchange, the prosecution agrees that you will only be convicted of certain offenses if you successfully complete the conditions. However, if you fail to satisfy the condition, the judge will sentence you on all the charges you plead guilty to.

An appellate court recently reversed a defendant’s motion to suppress all evidence from a New York DWI stop. According to the record, a police officer testified that he received a report that people were smoking marijuana in a white sedan. The informants provided the officer with a license plate number and an approximate location. Coincidentally, the officer was driving right behind the vehicle in question. As the officer was following the vehicle, he noticed the car’s tires go up a curb while the driver attempted to make a right turn. Another police officer testified that she arrived at the scene while the tires went up the curb. Both officers testified that seconds after the tires went up the curb, the original officer turned on the police car’s emergency lights and stopped the sedan. During the stop, the officers detected the smell of marijuana and subsequently arrested the driver.

The accused motioned the court to suppress all evidence from the stop because the vehicle stop was illegal. The City Court issued an order finding that the People did not meet their burden of establishing the lawfulness of the stop. In response, the People appealed, contending that the stop was lawful.

Under New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws § 1225-a, no person shall drive on or across a sidewalk. An exception exists if the driver must drive on the sidewalk if it is reasonable and necessary. In those situations, the driver must not exceed five miles per hour or interfere with the safety and passage of pedestrians.

A New York court recently issued an opinion addressing several questions stemming from a defendant’s New York driving while intoxicated charges. Amongst several issues, the court addressed whether New York’s fellow officer rule applied to the facts of the accused’s case. According to the record, a police sergeant received a call from an off-duty police officer about a reckless driver. The sergeant did not testify as to what information he received that led him to believe that the driver’s actions were reckless. Nonetheless, the sergeant followed the driver and observed him make two turns without signaling. At that point, the officer turned on his lights and tried to stop the driver. After stopping the defendant, the sergeant contacted a fellow officer to continue the investigation.

At issue is whether the officer was justified in asking the defendant’s “second-level questions.” The fellow officer rules allow a police officer to make an arrest even without personal knowledge to establish probable cause. The law would permit this if the officer acted “upon the direction or communication with “a “fellow officer” who has sufficient information to constitute probable cause. In these cases, the officers are permitted to ask “level one” questions. These questions are non-threatening inquiries about one’s identity, address, or destination.

Courts reviewing motions to suppress stemming from the fellow officer rule must engage in the two-pronged Aguilar-Spinelli test. This test requires courts to assess whether the information the officer acted upon is reliable. Next, the test evaluates whether the informing party possessed an “adequate basis of knowledge” for providing the information. While information received from a law enforcement officer is presumptively reliable, the People must still satisfy the second part of the test.

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