Many people drink excessively on holidays with family and friends yet drive home while still inebriated. To combat the accidents and fatalities that may result, lawmakers may put into place special holiday enforcement campaigns. New York law enforcement officers may be particularly alert to traffic violations over holiday weekends. For instance, they may have pulled you over for a traffic violation such as speeding or reckless driving, but also be investigating whether you were driving while intoxicated during the traffic stop. If you are concerned about a holiday enforcement stop, you should call dedicated and aggressive White Plains DWI lawyer Mark Siesel. He has more than 35 years of experience in the courtroom.Holiday Enforcement
Many people make minor mistakes while driving. However, in some cases, these minor errors are the result of alcohol consumption. Alcohol can contribute to an increased risk of personal injury and wrongful death on the road. Often law enforcement officers are asked to conduct holiday campaigns such as sobriety checkpoints or pay closer attention to violations and infractions during the holidays.
Sobriety checkpoints are lawful, but officers need to follow certain guidelines in order to avoid running afoul of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. In order to pull you over and arrest you at a checkpoint, an officer usually needs to have “probable cause.” This is a higher standard than the reasonable suspicion that’s needed to pull you over if you’re driving down the road, whether on holiday or an ordinary day.Traffic Violations
For certain traffic violations committed over the holidays or at other times, you’ll be assigned points. When you are assessed 11 points within an 18-month period, you will face suspension of your driver’s license. You can receive 11 points on your record if you were driving 40 miles per hour or more over the limit. You can be assigned 5 points for reckless driving. If you take a defensive driver class online, you can reduce your points by four and your premiums will be reduced by 10%. You can take this class only once in a 3-year period.
After 18 months from a violation date, points no longer go toward your total. But the points stay on your record as long as the conviction stays on your record; these points can be used by your insurer to increase your liability insurance premiums. Additionally, if you’re assessed 6 or more points on your record within the 18-month window, you need to pay a driver responsibility assessment fee.
Once 18 months have passed from the violation date, the points for that violation no longer count toward your total. However, the points remain on your driving record as long as the conviction remains on your record and may be used by your insurance company to increase premiums.Sobriety Checkpoints
Specific guidelines apply to sobriety checkpoints. When evidence of a DWI is obtained during a sobriety checkpoint, the prosecutor will bear the burden of showing:
- The primary purpose of the checkpoint was to address a valid law enforcement goal.
- The checkpoint was established as a program.
- The checkpoint was effective at meeting the law enforcement goal.
- The checkpoint was administered according to a uniform procedure that involved explicit, neutral restrictions of the conduct of individual officers.
- The procedures employed at the checkpoint didn’t impinge impermissibly on motorists’ privacy as they came to the checkpoint.
- The checkpoint implemented adequate safeguards regarding lighting, safety, and fair warning that a checkpoint exists.
As in other situations, any device to test blood alcohol concentration (BAC) needs to be appropriately calibrated with samples handled properly. When they were not, our lawyers may be able to bring a motion in limine or a motion to suppress evidence obtained during the stop. Additionally, if evidence of the DWI charge includes a confession, we’ll look closely at whether you were appropriately given Miranda warnings to safeguard your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Sobriety checkpoints are not always used as part of a holiday enforcement campaign. In some cases, police officers watch from the side of the road to conduct surveillance; when it’s part of a campaign to crack down on traffic violations and DWI, they may pull over cars more frequently. If you were pulled over while driving on a holiday such as Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, and the officers did not have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, our attorney may be able to get evidence from the stop suppressed or the case dismissed.Procedure When You’re Pulled Over While Driving on the Open Road on a Holiday
When it’s a holiday and you’re pulled over for a traffic violation or DWI, the police will examine you closely for physical signs of drinking. You might be asked to perform one or more standardized field sobriety tests. The purpose of these tests is to determine whether you’re intoxicated. Tests that may be administered to you include the one-legged stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which requires you to follow the police officer’s finger or another object from side to side with your eyes.
While you’re not required to take field sobriety tests under the law, the officer may arrest you even if you refuse. In that case, you’ll be administered a breath test. There is an implied consent law in New York, under which you implicitly agree to take the test when you apply for a driver’s license. If you don’t take the test, you could be fined and lose your license for a period of time.Consult a White Plains Attorney about a DWI Stop
If you were pulled over for a DWI as part of holiday enforcement, you should give us a call. Mark Siesel is a tough, seasoned White Plains DWI trial lawyer. He has 35 years of litigation experience representing clients in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, and various cities in Westchester, Kings, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Ulster, and Rockland Counties. Call him at (914) 224-3086 or complete an online form.