Though law enforcement officers work to keep New York residents safe, they are not perfect. Because of this imperfection, they could potentially fail to correctly follow procedures when making a traffic stop or subsequent arrest. If you face a charge of driving while intoxicated, you may want to determine whether the arresting officer involved in your case made any mistakes.
In particular, officers need to have reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle and probable cause to make an actual arrest. If your case does not have one or either of these factors, the specific evidence against you may prove inadmissible in court, which could work in your favor.
Reasonable suspicion means that something about the way you drove your vehicle, or something about the vehicle itself, caused an officer to become concerned enough to conduct a traffic stop. In the latter case, a broken tail light or headlight, broken windshield or missing license plates are a few examples of issues that could cause an officer to stop your car. In direct relation to drunk driving, an officer may have reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop if he or she witnesses any of the following actions:
- Driving erratically
- Driving well under the speed limit
- Coming close to hitting other vehicles
- Making illegal turns or other illegal maneuvers
- Braking often or unnecessarily
- Coming to a stop in the middle of the road without cause
- Failing to maintain the correct lane of travel
- Carrying out any action that an officer deems reckless, negligent or indicative of impairment
Even if an officer makes a traffic stop without immediate suspicion of impairment, such as one for the aforementioned vehicle issues, he or she can still carry out an investigation to determine whether you are impaired if suspicions arise after stopping your car.
As mentioned, for the officer to take you into custody, he or she must have probable cause to make the arrest. Evidence that could give probable cause concerning a DWI arrest includes breath test results, field sobriety test results, erratic behavior on your part and other observations made by the officer.
Creating a defense
If you believe that an officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle or probable cause to make an arrest, you could use that information as part of your criminal defense. A meaningful defense could help you work toward avoiding a conviction for DWI, and information on your legal options may prove useful.