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Court Rules on DWI of Underage Driver

Two state police troopers were parked at a corner when a red pick-up truck sped past the intersection. The radar in the police trooper’s patrol car registered that the vehicle was going at a speed of 65 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone. The police troopers then followed the red pick-up truck and while they were right behind the red pick-up truck, the police radar was still tracking the speed of the red pick-up truck.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said that then the red pick-up truck parked into the parking lot outside a bar, the police officers got out of their patrol car and asked the driver for his license and registration. They noted that the driver was only 20 years old. The officers noticed the strong smell of alcohol on the driver and his red, watery and glassy eyes. One of the officers asked the driver if he had been drinking that night and the driver said he had been drinking beer. He also stated that he knew that he should not have been drinking that night.

At this point the officers asked the driver to take sobriety tests at the parking lot. The driver was staggering and swaying when asked to stand still. He failed to follow with his eyes a pen that the officer moved in front of him. The driver succeeded in walking heel to toe in a straight line for about nine steps. But the driver could not keep his leg up to stand on just one leg without staggering or swaying. He could not recite the letters of the alphabet correctly and stopped midway. He was not given a breath analyzer test. After this, the state troopers then placed the driver under arrest for DWI.

A Nassau County Criminal Lawyer said that during the trial, the State Trooper who made the arrest testified that he had finished 80 hours of coursework at the police academy on recognizing sobriety or intoxication in drivers. He had made about 75 arrests of drunk drivers during his tour of service and has been present during the arrest of about 100 more drunk drivers.

The driver, during the trial, asked the court to suppress all the testimonial evidence against him as they were obtained illegally. He contends that he was arrested without cause.

The Court rejected the argument of the driver. The Court noted that the State Troopers had enough probable cause to stop the driver of the red pick-up: they had witnessed him speeding; his breath reeked of alcohol; his eyes were bloodshot, glassy and watery. And they noticed that the driver was unsteady on his feet. The driver was only 20 years old at the time of his arrest and should not even be admitted to a bar. He was violating the law at the time of his arrest.

The Court explained that probable cause exists when the police officer had a reasonable belief that a crime was being committed. Speeding is a crime which was sufficient probable cause for the state troopers to stop the driver. When they looked at his license and registration, the police officers were able to determine that he as committing crime: he was drinking even though he was only a minor (under 21 years old). The driver was also chatty: he admitted that he had been drinking beer and that he knew that he shouldn’t be drinking.

All the evidence from the testimony of the state troopers, including their recollection as to the failure of the driver during the field sobriety tests is all admissible as these were obtained legally. The state troopers had probable cause to stop the red pick-up truck. When they asked for the license and registration, the driver smelled of alcohol and had red, watery and bloodshot eyes. They also saw that he was only 20 years old. They had probable cause to subject him to the field sobriety tests. When he failed the sobriety tests, the state troopers had probable cause to arrest him for driving while intoxicated. The evidence obtained during the stop, the evidence of the sobriety tests and the admissions of the driver are all admissible into evidence.

If you have been charged with a DWI, sex crimes, or a theft charge, call Stephen Bilkis and Associates and ask to confer with a lawyer who can explain to you what the charges mean. Our office can help you during your custodial investigation; he can assist you at trial and present evidence as well as ague your case in your behalf.

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