Although most of us know that drunk driving is relatively common and incredibly dangerous, many people still think they’re invincible when they get behind the wheel. The “it could never happen to me” attitude will likely get you in trouble with the law, should you choose to drive while intoxicated. And unfortunately, these criminal allegations can have a big impact on your future. That’s especially true if you believe the following misconceptions pertaining to drunk driving and the procedures related to these crimes if you are caught.
MISCONCEPTION: You must answer every question an officer asks of you.
According to New York State law, you can be charged with a DWI if you operate a vehicle while having a BAC of 0.08% or higher and you’re 21 years of age or older. Here, you are legally able to drive if your BAC is below that percentage. However, you still might be wary of informing an officer that you’ve had a beer or a glass of wine if you’re asked about whether you’ve had anything to drink. That’s perfectly understandable and under no circumstances should you ever lie to a police officer. However, you can respectfully decline to answer without your lawyer present. You do not have to answer any questions if you are not being arrested, and if that’s the case, you should answer nothing without your lawyer.
MISCONCEPTION: You must submit to field sobriety tests.
DUI lawyers often have to defend clients who simply didn’t realize that they were under no legal obligation to perform field sobriety tests. You may feel funny about it and a police officer may pressure you to perform these tests (or alternatively frame them as “just making sure you’re okay to drive”), but you can request the presence of your lawyer before submitting to this testing. Even if you’re quite sober, these tests are extremely subjective and are easy to fail. And should you still be arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, your lawyer would probably tell you that your DUI defense could be easier to craft without an officer’s testimony relating to your field sobriety test performance.
MISCONCEPTION: Those who are arrested for a DWI for the first time are automatically eligible for a diversion program.
Although New York State laws have changed in favor of offering treatment programs in lieu of more serious jail time for first-time offenders, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be eligible for a diversion program. Even if this is the first time you’ve gotten in trouble with the law, there are certain factors that could impact your eligibility (like having a child in the car, being underage, or hurting someone as the result of your crime). It’s also essential to have experienced DWI lawyers defending you in order to have the best chance of qualifying for a diversion program.
Your DUI lawyers will prove to be a priceless resource if you find yourself arrested for driving while intoxicated in New York State. If you or someone you love needs help fighting these allegations, it’s important to work with some of the most experienced DUI lawyers available. To find out more or to schedule a consultation, contact our firm today.