Recently, a New York appellate court issued an opinion in a DWI case involving a defendant who failed a sobriety test after a routine traffic stop. This case is an example of a court granting the defendant’s motion to suppress a breath test because of concerns of reliability while denying the defendant’s motion to suppress statements made voluntarily by the defendant.
The Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, two officers pulled over the defendant while the defendant was driving his vehicle on a parkway. The officers allege that they observed the defendant’s vehicle swerving over into another lane multiple times and followed the vehicle for at least one-quarter of a mile before stopping the car. The defendant was in the driver’s seat while someone else was in the passenger seat. The officers observed the defendant with bloodshot and watery eyes and an odor of alcohol coming from the defendant’s breath. After an officer asked the defendant for his license, the defendant instead only produced a New Jersey identification card that was not a license. The officer asked if the defendant had anything to drink tonight, and the defendant responded, “not too much.” The officer directed the defendant to exit the vehicle and observed the defendant sagging side to side. The Portable Breath Test (PBT) was administered twice to the defendant, showing that the defendant blew over the legal limit. The officer observed the defendant for only two minutes before administering the test and did not look into the defendant’s mouth first.
While being transported to the Intoxicated Driver Testing Unit, the officer asked about the defendant’s license, to which the defendant replied it was coming in the mail. After a long pause, the defendant stated that it “looks like I’m going to lose my license now.” The officers eventually gave the defendant his Miranda warnings and eventually concluded that the defendant had been driving while impaired by alcohol.