Driving while impaired (DWI) is a serious charge in any state, let alone in New York. The state has provided a number of different penalties which increase depending on the number of offenses and the facts of the case. Perhaps the most important way of testing whether or not a person is guilty of DWI is by testing their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). BAC is an important concept for determining whether or not a person is impaired in an impartial way. The test is associated with numerous legal presumptions which can all become relevant in a DWI case. A BAC test and the ways in which it is interpreted can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal for any DWI defendant – something a NYC criminal lawyer can handle.
DWI can be proven in two main ways. The oldest approach is the field sobriety test. This is a test performed by an officer who has probably cause to pull someone over for DWI. Probable cause often results from behaviors that the officer witnessed, such as swerving on a road or smelling alcohol on a person’s breath when they have been pulled over. A field sobriety test often involves an officer testing a driver’s pupils and making them recite the alphabet backwards or walk a straight line. The officer then takes notes of what they see and makes a determination as to whether or not the individual was intoxicated.
Another, more objective measure is a BAC test. The BAC test involves a person blowing into a breathalyzer and having that device measure the amount of alcohol in their blood. A BAC test of .08 or above provides prima facie evidence that a person is too intoxicated to drive. Prima facie evidence is a standard of evidence required to take a case to trial, and is often relatively high in a DWI case. The vast majority of cases where a person blows a .08 or above and the evidence is treated and presented fairly result in a conviction. A BAC test can also be effective at exoneration. If a person blows under a .05, the state does not have prima facie evidence that a person was either intoxicated or was too impaired to drive. The lower a BAC test, the more improbable a DWI conviction. DWI convictions with an extremely low BAC test and a failed sobriety test rely entirely on the judgment of an officer and are often thrown out after being picket apart by a competent private defense attorney.
But there are other levels of proof spelled out by New York law related to BAC. If a person’s BAC is between .05 and .07, then their test is not prima facie evidence that you were intoxicated and should not be given prima facie effectthat you were too impaired to drive a vehicle. This test makes it more difficult to make a charge of DWI stick. It calls into question any positive results of a field sobriety test and often does not lead to a DWI conviction. A field sobriety test must be extremely airtight and must be weighed against your testimony, and many experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyers can poke holes in any DWI field sobriety test without a BAC rating above .08. However, a BAC test between .07 and .08 gives prima facie evidence that you were intoxicated and that evidence can be used to show that you were impaired behind the wheel. The link between an intoxicated person and a DWI charge is much easier to prove than one between a person who is not intoxicated and driving while impaired.
All of these different BAC legal presumptions can be complex and challenging for the average defendant. The defendant may be scared or worried, or may make assumptions about the law that turn out to be not true. That is why those who are charged with a DWI need to seek out a private attorney. Private attorneys will help the defendant decide what legal presumptions apply to his or her case. They can make sure that evidence from BAC was handled properly and that all due diligence was performed. A private attorney can mean the difference between an acquittal and years of financial hardship and a ruined reputation. Make sure to take the prudent step of calling an attorney to handle any of your DWI concerns as soon as possible.