The Details of Being Pulled Over for DWI in Buffalo NY
Being pulled over is a harrowing experience for most. However, it is important to understand why you have been pulled over, the possible outcomes, your rights, and how you should handle the situation. Because if you are being pulled over, it is because you have roused the suspicion of a police officer.
1. Steps to Take When Pulled Over for a DWI
If you have been drinking and felt certain your BAC would be under 0.05%, and you decided to drive yourself home, you happen to be one of the thousand others who just made the same poor choice. People make mistakes. You suddenly look in your rear-view mirror and see a cop’s lights. You now have a terrible sinking feeling in your gut, a premonition that something dreadful is about to happen. What do you do?
Your priority should not be to get out of trouble at this point. Leave that to your DWI attorney. The police officer will pull you over; he will speak to you; he will find out you have been drinking. This is inevitable. Because the police officer will be observing you very closely, you should focus instead on ensuring the situation does not escalate. My suggestion is that you:
- pull over in a slow, methodical, reasonable manner; no sudden moves, nothing rash
- turn the vehicle off
- turn the lights on in the vehicle
- put your hands on the steering wheel
- wait for the officer to come to the car
- be polite and respectful
- avoid lying and being argumentative
- if you need to make any movements (like reaching into your glove box for your license and registration, or turning around to retrieve your bag that is in the back seat, etc), ask permission before you do; explain what you are going to do and why
It is important to remember that police officers are human beings too. Like you, they too fear for their safety. They place themselves in harm’s way to keep you and the general public safe. They haven’t the slightest clue as to what they should expect when they approach your vehicle. It makes them very skittish. Turning the lights on in the vehicle and placing your hands on the steering wheel enables them to see you and where your hands are. It makes them feel safer. Doing as the police officer says makes the entire process considerably smoother.
Typically, what happens is that the police officer will approach your vehicle from the driver’s side. They will ask you to shut the car off, if you haven’t already done so. They will ask you for your license and registration. If you must remove your hands from the steering wheel or make any movements to retrieve your documents, ask permission to reach for them. This shows that you are respectful and considerate, and are likely cooperative. Not asking permission before moving your hands from the steering wheel may be perceived as a demonstration of quick or sudden movement. This might alarm the officer.
You do not want to make the officer feel on edge. What you have actually done is far, far, far less severe than what they have to assume you may have done. In their minds, you might be armed and ready to flee the scene, or worse, pull out your weapon. The truth is that you drank an innocent little Bud Light before you got in your car. Do not give the officer reason to worry you may be a hardened criminal.
Additionally, the officer may ask you to exit the vehicle. It is prudent to comply. Remember to do so in a reasonable and respectful manner. Please follow all the officer’s instructions and answer their questions. That being said, you do have rights. You do not necessarily have to answer every question, and you do not have to perform field sobriety tests that an officer may ask you to perform. I recommend you tell them that you would like to speak to an attorney as soon as possible and wait for them to allow you to do so.
- When pulled over, exercise your rights in a polite, courteous and cooperative manner.
- Do not make any sudden movements and keep your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them clearly.
2. Probable Cause for a DWI Arrest
If you have been pulled over in New York State and subsequently charged with DWI, there are certain things that a qualified, seasoned DWI attorney must assess to ensure that your charge is legitimate and legal. One thing that an attorney must look at is probable cause. Probable cause is a term of art that means different things to different people. However, it is one of the main elements of an arrest.
For instance, if a police officer pulls somebody over, they must have probable cause to pull that person over. They cannot just pick a person because of the color of the car or the neighborhood that they were in. They must have a reason. This reason is called probable cause. A seasoned attorney will fight for you whether or not there had been probable cause in that particular instance. A simple example would be whether or not the car was pulled over in a legitimate manner. A hearing called an Ingle Hearing will follow. It is called “People versus Ingle,” and that is a hearing that an attorney would run to determine if law enforcement had legitimate probable cause to pull your vehicle over.
- A police officer cannot pull a driver over on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender or skin color.
- A police officer can only pull a driver over if they they have reasonable doubt about the driver.
3. The Reason You Need an Attorney for DWI
Being charged with a DWI or a DWAI in New York State is an extremely serious affair. This is because the repercussions are severe, and the law, unforgiving. It can affect an individual on several different fronts. First of all, you can lose your liberty. You can go to jail for a year (or several) if it is a felony and you have had priors, or 90 days if it is a violation. You could also lose your job. If your employment or your employer requires you to drive for your job, and you lose your license, you could ultimately lose your job. Additionally, there are some potential ramifications that could affect your ability to seek employment in the future.
Careers have withered and perished from the strain of DWI charges. Furthermore, you are facing exponential fines and fees as the process wears on. The case could cost several thousands of dollars; you might have to spend numerous weeks in counseling and trying to meet the rigorous requirements of the Department of Motor Vehicles. The only thing that can help you is a seasoned and dedicated attorney. Somebody who knows both sides. You are ideally looking for an attorney who has been both prosecutor and defendant.
- Being charged with a DWI or a DWAI is a very serious affair and the law is very unforgiving.
- A DWI charge can have severely detrimental repercussions in a variety of other aspects of your life.
To learn more about your rights when you have been pulled over, or to get legal counsel when charged with a crime, please contact the law office of experienced criminal defense and DWI attorney, John Dudziak.