People who drive in New York are expected to be fully sober and able to make the decisions necessary to operate a motor vehicle. When they aren't, there is a chance that they will be pulled over by a police officer and arrested for drunk driving. Another possibility is that the driver will be involved in an accident, which can start a difficult criminal justice process.
There are several important things to remember about drunk driving in this state. Whether you are currently facing criminal charges for impaired driving or just trying to increase your knowledge, here are some points that you might find interesting:
Reason for the stop
Police officers don't need to have probable cause to stop a driver who is showing signs of impaired driving. Instead, they merely need to have reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is intoxicated. This is usually met when they observe the driver speeding or driving too slowly, swerving through lanes or driving in a generally unsafe manner. An accident can also lead to a police officer taking steps to determine if a driver is impaired.
When police officers encounter a person they feel might be intoxicated, they can take steps to determine the person's impairment. This is done through a field sobriety test, a breath test or other tests to check for the blood alcohol concentration percentage. In some cases, such as wrecks, the police officer might be required to get the tests done. Implied consent laws do allow drivers to refuse taking BAC tests, but there are penalties for doing this that must be considered.
New York has established BAC limits for what constitutes driver impairment. For most non-commercial drivers, this is .08 percent. Enhanced penalties are possible for drivers with a BAC over .18 percent. Drivers who can't legally consume alcohol have a much lower limit -- .02 percent, which makes New York a no tolerance state for underage drunk driving.
At a minimum, a drunk driver will face criminal charges for driving while intoxicated. This comes with the possibility of time in jail, fines and the loss of your driver's license. When there is an accident, other charges are possible. Sometimes, drivers might face vehicular manslaughter charges if the wreck was fatal. There are two degrees of this charge, first and second. Which one a person is charged with is determined by the circumstances of the incident.
No matter what kind of charge you are facing in your drunk driving case, you need to explore your options. Once you know what is possible, you can work on getting your defense strategy set.