Your rights in New York DUI cases

Your rights in New York DUI cases

When a New York law enforcement officer stops you for suspected DUI, and you’ve never been in trouble before, it’s normal to be intimidated or worried. After all, New York has some of the toughest laws in the country when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is important to remain calm, be polite while avoiding any admissions of guilt, and understand what your rights are in these situations.

Roadside testing

The officer who stopped you may ask your permission to perform two types of tests:

  • Field sobriety: These tests require you to walk in a straight line, balance on one leg, and in general assess your physical coordination.
  • Blood alcohol: In this roadside test, the police typically use a portable Breathalyzer to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC).

You are not legally obligated to take a field sobriety test and should politely refuse when requested, as there are many acceptable reasons why a person can fail to pass it. Refusal to take a blood alcohol test, however, can result in fines and license revocation.

Implied consent

New York’s implied consent laws require you to submit to portable breath testing if the police have probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence. Handheld devices are used to measure your BAC from your breath. While the results generally can’t be used against you at trial, refusing to take the test is a traffic infraction.

If the officer decides there are sufficient grounds to arrest you for DUI, then you will be asked to submit to chemical testing at the police station. These tests are typically carried out on samples of your blood, saliva, or urine. After submitting, you have the right to ask for another test to be carried out by a doctor of your choosing.

Consequences of refusing a chemical test

If you refuse chemical testing, then the police will warn you that your driver’s license will be suspended regardless of whether or not you’re later convicted of DUI. If this is your first incident, then you face a one-year license suspension and a $500 fine. Your license can be permanently revoked if you refuse testing and within the past four years you’ve had two refusals, two DUI convictions, or one of each.

In certain instances, refusal might not be an option. If you are involved in an accident that seriously injures or kills someone else, then the police may obtain a court order enabling them to forcibly secure a sample of your bodily fluids for testing.

If you have been charged with DUI in New York, then contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. They will ensure that you understand your rights, advise you on how to plead, and help you contest your license suspension so that you can resume driving until your case is resolved. Without experienced legal advice and support, it is easy to make a mistake that impacts your ability to drive in the future.

Julie Rendelman is a New York City criminal defense attorney offering free consultations. As an attorney with more than 20 years of practical experience with a record of success, she understands the law and knows how to defend her clients in difficult DUI cases. Call 212-951-1232 to speak with Ms. Rendelman’s office or visit for more information.