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DWI Evidence in New York

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious criminal offense in New York that can have severe legal and personal consequences. In addition to the immediate repercussions of arrest, a DWI conviction can result in fines, license suspension or revocation, and even imprisonment. It is critical for anyone facing a DWI charge to understand the types of evidence that can be used against them in court. Evidence is the foundation of any legal case, and in DWI cases, it can come in many different forms. It is essential to work with a skilled New York DWI lawyer who understands the nuances of New York DWI law and has experience challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution. By understanding the evidence in a DWI case, defendants can be better equipped to fight the charges against them and protect their rights.

Types of Evidence

The prosecution in a DWI case in New York will typically rely on the following types of evidence to prove their case:

Chemical Test Results: Chemical test results are an essential aspect of DWI cases, as the prosecution presents chemical test results as measurable evidence of a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Chemical tests such as breath, blood, or urine tests are often conducted to determine the level of alcohol in the bloodstream. In New York, driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered illegal. For those under the age of 21, the threshold is .02%. The results of these tests can be very persuasive evidence of intoxication in court.

The BAC level can also be used to determine the severity of the DWI charge and the penalties that may be imposed on the driver. It is important to note that the accuracy of chemical tests can be challenged in court, and an experienced New York DWI lawyer can help evaluate the test results and defend against them if necessary. Additionally, if the tests were not conducted correctly, the results may be deemed inadmissible in court.

Field Sobriety Tests: Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are a set of standardized tests used by law enforcement officers to assess a driver's physical and cognitive abilities, which may be impaired due to alcohol or drug use. The three most commonly used FSTs include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test. In the HGN test, the officer will ask the driver to follow a moving object, such as a pen or flashlight, with their eyes while keeping their head still. If the driver's eyes jerk involuntarily, it may be a sign of intoxication. The walk-and-turn test requires the driver to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, turn, and walk back the same way. Any inability to complete this test properly may be interpreted as an indicator of intoxication. The one-leg stand test requires the driver to stand on one foot for a specified amount of time without swaying, hopping, or putting their foot down. If the driver fails to perform any of these tests satisfactorily, the results of the test can be used as evidence of impairment.

While the results of FSTs are generally considered less reliable than chemical tests, they can still be used as evidence of intoxication. However, FSTs are subjective and can be influenced by factors such as fatigue, anxiety, or medical conditions. Furthermore, the administration and interpretation of FSTs require proper training and certification, and mistakes in administering these tests can lead to false-positive results. Thus, it is important to have an experienced DWI attorney in New York evaluate the results of FSTs and identify any potential weaknesses in the prosecution's case.

Observations of the Officer: One of the most common types of evidence used in DWI cases is the observations made by the law enforcement officer at the scene of the arrest. The officer is trained to observe a driver's behavior, speech, and physical appearance for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the smell of alcohol on the driver's breath. These observations can be used as evidence of intoxication and can play a critical role in the prosecution's case.

However, it is important to note that these observations can also be subject to interpretation and may be challenged as part of a good defense strategy. For example, bloodshot eyes can be caused by a variety of factors other than alcohol consumption, such as allergies or fatigue. The defense might argue that the officer did not have sufficient training to make an accurate assessment of the driver's behavior or that the officer was biased or had a predetermined belief that the driver was intoxicated.

Notable New York Cases Related to DWI Evidence
  • People v. Cahill, 2 N.Y.3d 14 (2003): In this case, the defendant was charged with DWI after being involved in a car accident. The prosecution relied on the testimony of a police officer who observed the defendant at the scene of the accident and noticed signs of impairment. The defendant argued that the officer's testimony was insufficient to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that the officer's observations, when viewed in conjunction with the defendant's admission that he had been drinking, were sufficient to support a conviction for DWI.
  • People v. Cruz, 137 A.D.3d 1448 (3d Dept. 2016): In this case, the defendant was charged with DWI after failing a field sobriety test and providing a positive breath test result. The defendant argued that the breath test results were unreliable because the testing device was not properly calibrated. However, the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, finding that the prosecution had presented sufficient evidence to support the defendant's guilt.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

DWI cases in New York can be complex and challenging, requiring the prosecution to present compelling evidence of intoxication. To obtain the best possible outcome, it is essential to seek the advice of an experienced and skilled DWI attorney serving New York who can evaluate the evidence presented against you and develop a strong defense strategy to protect your rights and your freedom. If you have been charged with a DWI in New York, don't hesitate to reach out to Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and Suffolk County.