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NYC DWI defense attorneyIf you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer under suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or any other traffic violation, you are protected by certain constitutional rights. For example, you are not required to consent to a search of your vehicle if the officer does not have a warrant, and you are not required to answer an officer's questions in a way that could implicate you or be used against you in a legal proceeding. However, under New York’s implied consent law, you are required to submit to an officer’s request for you to undergo a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test, or else face consequences related to your driver’s license.

Understanding Implied Consent in New York

In the State of New York, drivers are considered to have given “implied consent” to a chemical test in the event that they are arrested for DWI. Often, this testing consists of an initial breath test in the field, and it may be followed by an additional test of the driver’s blood, urine, or saliva once the driver is brought to a police station. Under New York law, the legal BAC limit is 0.08 in most circumstances, and a test result above this number can be used as evidence in support of a DWI conviction.

You may think that refusing a chemical test will prevent an officer from obtaining the evidence necessary to place you under arrest, but this is not necessarily the case. If, upon observing your behavior, the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of alcohol, you may still be arrested even without BAC test results.

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New York City DWI defense attorneyWhile the term “driving while intoxicated” seems to imply that offenders can only be arrested when they are driving, the definition of the offense under New York law is actually slightly broader. State statutes specifically declare that “no person shall operate a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition,” which means there is a possibility of facing charges in certain situations other than when you are actively driving. With this technicality in mind, it is especially important that you understand your rights if you are arrested and the possible penalties you may face if you are convicted.

What Does it Mean to Operate a Motor Vehicle?

As you might expect, operating a vehicle includes any situation in which you are behind the wheel while the vehicle is moving. An intoxicated driver in motion poses a clear threat to other drivers on the road, and a law enforcement officer can pull over and arrest a driver with probable cause to believe that he or she is intoxicated. The officer may also ask the driver to submit to a chemical test to measure blood alcohol concentration, and a result of 0.08 or higher can be used as evidence to prosecute DWI charges.

However, you may also be arrested for DWI while sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car while the engine is running. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may see this as a sign of your intent to drive while intoxicated, or possibly as evidence that you have driven while intoxicated if you are found at a location that is a significant distance from your home or the place where you were drinking.

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