10 Things to Do at a DWI Stop in Westchester County
Advice from DWI Attorney Robert Schuster
1. Keep Your Hands Visible
Keep your hands on the steering wheel and visible before and during being approached by the officer.
2. Have Your License Ready
Provide the officer with your license and pedigree information only.
3. Do Not Agree to a Search
Do not agree to a search of your vehicle or person. Be polite. Realize that if you are taken into custody you and your vehicle may then be searched incident to arrest. However, unless that happens, do not voluntarily consent to a search.
4. Remain Silent & Polite
Do not answer any questions regarding what you had to drink. These responses are 710.30 admissions and are discoverable. Reply with "I have been advised by an attorney not to respond to any questions." Remain polite and unemotional. Being cooperative does not require that you make any admissions. Do not capitulate if threatened with being taken into custody. This is likely to happen anyway if you have been drinking.
5. Never Consent to Blood Tests. Breath test consent is problematic.
Never consent to a blood test for alcohol or drugs. Pursuant to the new U.S. Supreme Court case of Missouri v. McNeely, decided in April 2013, the state must have a warrant to obtain a blood sample. The decision as to whether or not to agree to a breath test is a complex one and is dependent upon policies within a particular jurisdiction, how much alcohol has been consumed, and whether or not a subject has a prior history containing a conviction for DWI, DUI, or DWAI. Failure to consent to a breath test could result in a one year civil revocation of driving privileges depending upon the outcome of hearings.
6. Field Sobriety Tests May Not Be Advisable
In New York State, it is often advisable to agree to field sobriety tests to avoid a possible 1‑year civil revocation of your driving privileges following a Revocation Hearing. In certain circumstances where there is a very high reading, hindsight illustrates that agreeing to field sobriety testing may not have been strategic. Should your BAC prove to be double to legal limit (.16%) or higher, be aware that should you seek to obtain a negotiated plea, absent evidentiary weaknesses in the case, it will be extremely difficult to avoid a misdemeanor conviction and obtain a non-criminal DWAI violation pursuant to the office policies of the Westchester County District Attorney's Office.
Should your BAC be equal or in excess of .18%, you will be charged with aggravated DWI making probation a possibility should you seek a negotiated plea and choose not fight the case at trial. A person sentenced to probation with DWI conditions in Westchester County will likely be unable to drive for a time equal or excess of the time that they would be unable to drive pursuant to a civil revocation for refusal. Therefore, if you are confident that your BAC is extremely high, it may not be strategic to consent to a breath test. Of course, it goes without saying that this is a difficult assessment for most people to make, particularly if intoxicated.
7. Pay Attention During the Walk-and-Turn
When the sobriety test known as "the walk and turn test" is conducted, note and remember whether or not the officer asks you to walk on a real or imaginary line. If the line drawn is actual, note whether it is a line that has been drawn with chalk, or if it is a painted traffic line and then note the location of that line. Pay attention to whether or not the road surface is flat and even, or has an incline/decline.
8. Note the Patrol Car's Lights During an HGN Test
If the officer performs the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (asks you to track a light or object with your eye), look to see if the patrol car's siren lights are within or reflecting into your field of vision and note same.
9. Inform the Officer of Any Physical Conditions
Tell the officer of any physical conditions you have that may interfere with your ability to perform any field sobriety test. Disclose no other information.
10. Speak to a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Ask the officer, at the earliest opportunity, to speak to a Westchester DWI lawyer. Once you actually hire an attorney, be certain that the attorney has extensive experience in handling DWI cases and trying them to a successful verdict.
The Law Offices of Robert Schuster features an attorney who has been named as a Top DWI Lawyer in New York by the American Instittute of DWI Atorneys and named among the Top 100 DWI attorneys in New York State by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense (NAFDD). Get in touch with the firm today to discuss your case with Attorney Robert Schuster in a free consultation!
"My DWI case was fully dismissed."- P.T.
"The outcome of the case was very favorable...misdemeanor and conditional discharge off a DWI felony."- R.B.
"Robert Schuster is an outstanding attorney who works tirelessly for the best outcome for his clients."- Jane J.
"I know Robert Schuster to be both a tenacious advocate and a brilliant tactician"- Matt S.
"Highly professional"- William G.