- by Eli Moore Traffic Attorney
DWI DO’S AND DON’TS: SAFETY AND LEGAL ADVICE YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE
New York State is tough on drunk drivers and for good reason. The number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers is staggering and so preventable. Good judgment, quick reflexes, and visual perception are all compromised by alcohol in the bloodstream. Ideally, of course, noone would ever drive after drinking but even when your “party days” are over, there are inevitably social occasions when you’re planning to drive home after having had a drink or two. Keeping the following Do’s and Don’ts in mind can help you avoid and best manage DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)—also known as DUI (Driving Under the Influence)—charges:
DO Use Alcohol-Monitoring Devices. You’re not legally allowed to drive a car in New York with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. Many of us have no idea what that alcohol level feels like—especially because each of us metabolizes alcohol differently. Fortunately there are handheld breathalyzers. Most recently, on Amazon.com ((http://amzn.to/2v9DFZ1), they ranged in price from $7.99 -$129.99+. If you’re a regular drinker, it’s worthwhile to research which ones are said to be most accurate and purchase one to use regularly before you drink and drive. There are also online blood-alcohol calculators, such as the one you can find at healthstatus.com (http://bit.ly/2eOVcPa) that estimate, based on your age, height, weight, and alcoholic beverage, how much you can consume before your blood alcohol level rises above the legal limit. Knowledge is power.
DO Be Polite, Honest, and Cooperative
When you are on the road and pulled over by the police for suspicion of DWI, be cool and calm so that you appear to be in control of your driving situation. Be respectful and do as the policeman requests, and the policeman may even decide there is nothing suspicious at all and not subject you to a sobriety test. Be aware, though, that the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles does have the right to revoke or suspend your driver’s license if you refuse a sobriety test. An initial sobriety test may involve being asked to walk a straight line or stand on one foot while counting. The results of this evaluation will influence how and if the police move forward with a breath, blood, or urine test—each of which yields measurable data regarding blood-alcohol content. Remember, the calmer and more courteous you are, the better your chances of managing rather than exacerbating the situation.
DON’T Volunteer Information
While it is important to answer a policeman’s questions honestly, it is crucial to avoid voluntarily saying anything that could incriminate you. Any information you share with the police officer while you are pulled over will be noted and used against you during a trial if you are arrested for DWI. Admitting that you consumed alcohol before driving is admitting to a DWI.
DO Talk to an Experienced Defense Attorney As Soon As Possible If you have been pulled over on suspicion of DWI and a police officer asks you questions regarding the consumption of drugs or alcohol, insist on speaking to a lawyer before answering. A lawyer can advise you about what to say and do to avoid incriminating yourself before, during, and after an arrest, so that your words and actions can’t be used as evidence against you during trial.
DON’T Assume There’s No Way Out of Being Charged With DWI There are numerous defenses that your defense attorney may use to prevent you from being charged. For instance, when you share your story with your lawyer, he or she may discover that the officer used an improper arrest procedure and did not give you a Miranda Warning. Or, perhaps, there are witnesses who can testify on your behalf. At the very least, your lawyer will try to lesson your penalties. Having an excellent driving record will certainly help in that regard.
Clearly the best way to avoid a DWI charge is to avoid consuming any alcohol or substance if you’re planning on driving. Planning an alternate mode of travel—such as taking a cab, Uber, or public transportation—are best bets for your safety and your legal record.
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