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.