Improper Police Actions
When you see those flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror and a police officer pulls you over for suspicion of driving under the influence, it can be the start of a frightening ordeal that can lead to your arrest, DUI charges, and a potential conviction. But the moment the officer turns on those lights also begins the process during which the officer can make any number of mistakes that could be the key to fighting the charges that follow the stop.
Improper police actions during DWI stops, field sobriety or chemical testing, searches, and arrests in Brooklyn and elsewhere throughout New York are common. When officers fail to follow applicable procedures and laws – and violate Constitutional rights during a DWI investigation and arrest, the experienced and aggressive Brooklyn DWI defense attorneys at Epstein & Conroy can challenge those law enforcement errors and use them to have charges reduced or dismissed altogether.
Some of the most common acts of police misconduct relating to DWIs include:
Police officers do not have the right to pull you over without a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Usually, this will involve driving behaviors such as weaving between lanes, speeding, disobeying traffic signals, and other behaviors. If you have been pulled over for such conduct, the officer has the right to begin investigating whether your driving indicates that you are under the influence of alcohol. However, if you are stopped without a reasonable basis, anything that follows the improper stop could be deemed inadmissible in court.
Improperly Conducted Field Sobriety Tests
After you’ve been pulled over, there is a good chance the officer will ask you to perform one or more Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) if he or she believes you are intoxicated. FSTs include such familiar evaluations as the “walk and turn” test, “one leg stand” test, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN), where the officer shines a penlight or other stimulus into your eyes and instructs you to follow it to the left and to the right without moving your head.
There are many problems with FSTs and they are often unreliable, especially if the officer doesn’t administer them properly, fails to give proper instructions, or fails to take into consideration external factors, other than alcohol, which could cause a person to “fail” the test. Some people have physical limitations that make it difficult, if not impossible, to perform the tests stone sober. Other distractions such as loose gravel, uneven surfaces, and oncoming headlights can also cause a person to be unable to successfully perform the tests.
If an officer fails to follow required procedures and gives FSTs improperly, and the failure to pass the tests is the basis for a subsequent DUI arrest, a good defense lawyer can challenge the veracity of the tests and have the results excluded from evidence.
Faulty Breath Test
As with FSTs, breathalyzers and similar devices used to determine blood alcohol content (BAC) are notoriously unreliable. If the testing machine is not properly maintained or calibrated it may register incorrect results that show you to be over the legal limit when you are not. Additionally, there are very strict procedures that must be followed when administering the tests. As the results of such tests are often the central piece of evidence in DUI cases, challenging every aspect of how a breath test was administered can be the key to your defense. Any mistake by an officer, or any problem with the device, may mean that the test results results can’t be used against you in court.
Those are just a few of the mistakes and improper actions that can call into question the prosecution’s DUI case. An improper search of your vehicle, failure to read you your Miranda rights, coercion and intimidation, and other acts and omissions by the arresting officer might also be the basis for obtaining a dismissal of charges.
Epstein & Conroy: Aggressive Brooklyn DWI Defense Attorneys
The defense of alcohol-related offenses requires experience, judgment, and aggressive advocacy. As discussed above, challenges to the stop, the testing, the arrest, and other aspects of your case all demand a comprehensive knowledge of the complex procedural and evidentiary rules that are involved in DUI prosecutions. Given what’s at stake, you don’t want to take chances with your future and try to handle matters on your own. Whether this is your first offense or your fifth, you need a skilled New York DUI defense attorney at your side.
Contact the Brooklyn attorneys at Epstein & Conroy by calling (718) 852-6763 for a free consultation to discuss your case.