Probable Cause in New York DWI Cases

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides individuals from unreasonable searches or seizures. New York criminal defendants who believe that they were the subject of an unreasonable search or seizure should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies. This amendment requires law enforcement officials to have probable cause before stopping or searching an individual. The law defines probable cause as a reasonable belief that a crime is underway or has taken place.

The laws surrounding probable cause are often vague and allow law enforcement a great deal of discretion in determining whether a stop is appropriate. While law enforcement maintains this discretionary power, they must still abide by the law. After an officer stops a defendant, they maintain a limited right to search the vehicle and seize evidence. Officers may seize items that are in plain sight without a warrant. Defendants subject to an unlawful stop may file a motion to suppress evidence obtained from the detention.

In cases involving DWI arrests, police may use evidence of a driver’s erratic driving and speeding as probable cause to stop the driver. Further, evidence of failed sobriety field tests and breathalyzer results may be probable cause for the driver’s arrest. For instance, recently, a New York driver was charged with DWI, making an unsafe lane change, and driving below the minimum speed. Amongst other things, the driver moved to suppress all of her statements and the results of a breathalyzer test. She argued that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest her.

In this case, the arresting officer stated that he noticed the defendant’s vehicle swerving and effectuated a stop. He arrested the defendant after administering three sobriety tests. The lower court determined that the initial stop was appropriate; however, they found that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest the defendant. The People appealed, and the appellate court found that the officer had sufficient probable cause to arrest the driver. The court reasoned that the defendant’s erratic driving, appearance, the smell of alcohol, and admission provided the officer with probable cause. Therefore, the court ultimately reversed the lower court’s grant of the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained after her arrest.

Have You Been Arrested for New York Crime?

If you face New York DWI charges, contact the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel for immediate assistance. Criminal cases, including drunk driving offenses, involve various complex legal issues, and an attorney at our office can help you develop a solid defense to your charges. We provide our clients with respect and compassion during these stressful proceedings. Our law firm attorneys have successfully represented clients who face charges stemming from motor vehicle offenses, misdemeanors, felonies, and quasi-criminal administrative matters, such as drivers’ license suspension hearings. We use our skills, resources, and litigation experience to provide clients with excellent representation at every step of the process. If have been recently been charged with a DWI crime, contact us at (914) 428-7386 to schedule a free initial consultation.