As former prosecutors in Westchester County and published authors in the area of DWI defense, the attorneys at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP feel it is important for you to know how to protect yourself during a DWI stop and arrest. In this blog, we explain a few important things to remember in case you are stopped by police and accused of driving under the influence.
When you are stopped by police for a suspected DWI, you have the absolute right to remain silent and not cooperate with the police officers attempts to get you to agree to field sobriety tests. Many motorists assume that they must cooperate with the police to “look good” or maybe “avoid an arrest.”This type of thinking is nonsense because The Constitution protects all individuals against unlawful police intrusion.
Your Miranda Rights
At the time a motorist is pulled over for a potential DWI, the officer is looking for anything that can be used to establish probable cause to arrest them and collect evidence for a prosecution.
Miranda Rights are often not even read to motorists until they are placed under arrest. Police are required to read a motorist their Miranda Rights only before a custodial interrogation, which means they will use other means to build their case for probable cause before starting a custodial interrogation. Police tend to ask two questions right away:
- Do you know why I pulled you over?
- How much did you have to drink tonight?
An admission from the accused is one of the most powerful weapons in a DWI prosecution. However, if the police are unable to establish probable cause, there can be no legal arrest. Without the proper evidence against you, there cannot be a prosecution for the DWI offense.
Be Polite & Remain Calm
You should always remain calm and be polite whenever you are stopped by law enforcement. Provide your name and address but do not disclose any more information without an attorney. If possible, record the entire encounter on a cell phone because it might be helpful evidence later in your case. Many police departments have body cameras or dash cameras but the large percentage of those recording devices are never turned on.
Field Sobriety Tests
Motorists are not required to participate in any field sobriety tests (FST). Examples of field sobriety tests include:
- The Walk & Turn
- One Leg Stand
- Follow the Pen
- Touch The Tip Of Your Nose
- Recite the Alphabet Backwards
These tests are designed to establish probable cause for arrest and evidence for prosecution. In some cases, a sober driver isn’t physically capable of adequately performing the requested FST. Many of our clients have even told our attorneys that they passed the test but the police officer marked the result as failed.
Stretching The Truth
The police are not above lying to motorists in order to build a case against a driver suspected of DWI. Motorist have been told that they will not serve jail time if they confess, while others have been told that the officer knows the judge or prosecutor and they can put in a good word if they submit to the FST. A well trained police officer will say anything to a suspect to get them to let their guard down, avoid speaking to a lawyer, and cooperate with the police investigation. When police are successful in such efforts, the motorist ends up helping officers build a case against themselves.
Hire an Experienced Lawyer
The police can and do make mistakes. Our White Plains DWI lawyers have the experience to know what to look for to determine if a mistake was made by the police, and most importantly, if that mistake will result in a dismissal of some or all of the DWI charges.
The most common questions our DWI lawyers are asked involve the breath test and if it is better for a motorist to refuse. This is not an easy question to answer because a breath test result is strong evidence that will be used in court, but a refusal will result in the immediate revocation of a motorist’s driver’s license. On the spot or in in the police station, this is a tough decision to make.
Remember, the police are not your friend and do not want you to know your rights. If you are facing DWI charges, you need an attorney on your side. Our attorneys can review your case to determine the strength of the evidence against you and whether we can convince the prosecutor to drop the charge or have evidence suppressed at trial. Our DWI lawyers are ready to fight your case to obtain the best possible result.
Call (914) 840-5104 to set up your free consultation with our team of White Plains DWI lawyers today.