Recently, a New York appellate court denied a criminal defendant’s motion to suppress evidence based on voluntary consent. According to the opinion, the defendant was driving a car and was pulled over by an officer who was using his radar gun and observed the defendant driving 20 miles over the speed limit. When the officer asked for the defendant’s license and registration, the officer smelled alcohol and noticed that the defendant had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. The defendant admitted to the officer that he had drunk two beers, although the defendant later told another officer that he had nothing to drink before then admitting that he had two beers. The officers arrested the defendant and conducted a breath test at the police precinct. The defendant was found to have a blood alcohol content of at least .08 percent and was charged with two counts of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
The defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress evidence, and the lower court denied the motion after finding that the officer had probable cause to stop the car since the defendant was driving 70 mph, and also told the officers that he had two beers and appeared to have slurred speech. During the trial, the defendant contested for the first time the voluntariness of his consent to the breath test and moved to suppress the results of the test. The defendant was convicted of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The defendant appealed and argued that it was an error to deny his motion he made mid-trial to suppress the breath test results.
Under New York Law, a defendant may move to suppress the results of a breathalyzer by filing a motion within forty-five days after arraignment and before the trial starts. Also, the court must evaluate any pretrial motions filed outside of this 45-day time limit to determine whether the defendant could not reasonably have raised the issue within the time period. The appellate court explains that the defendant was aware of the facts surrounding the breath test but chose not to file the motion, even during a hearing where the trial court asked the defense counsel whether the defendant wanted to raise any suppression claims regarding the breath test. Additionally, the consent issue was to be determined by the court before trial and was not an issue that the defendant was entitled to litigate during the trial without previously making a motion to suppress. Thus, the appellate court denied the defendant’s appeal on the motion to suppress and affirmed the defendant’s conviction. This case highlights the importance of having an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate complicated New York laws to best protect your rights at every stage of the process.