In a recent opinion from a New York court, the defendant’s request for the court to suppress his incriminating statements was denied. The defendant was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the second degree, driving while intoxicated, operation with a suspended registration, and consumption of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle. On appeal, the defendant argued that his incriminating statements made to the officer at the scene should be suppressed because he made the statements involuntarily. The court disagreed, denying the defendant’s appeal.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, a police officer observed the defendant in his car stopped at a red light one evening. Once the light turned green, the defendant did not drive forward, and other cars began to honk for him to move. The officer approached the vehicle and observed that the defendant appeared to be sleeping in the driver’s seat. Once the officer banged on the window, the defendant awoke and the officer asked to see a license and registration. With bloodshot eyes, the defendant fumbled around in the car to look for his papers. In the meantime, another officer arrived at the scene, asked the defendant a few questions, then issued field sobriety tests. After failing all of the tests, the defendant was placed under arrest.
During the trial, the officer who conducted the field sobriety tests testified that he had received training at the police academy on how to recognize evidence of intoxication. Based on the officer’s training, he had reason to believe the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol. The defendant had a “jerky pursuit”, swayed while trying to maintain balance, refused a breathalyzer, and smelled of alcohol. After the arrest, the officer found one bottle of vodka in the car.