A police officer and his partner were on routine patrol at one of the intersections in Queens County. The officers noticed the woman driving a grey Cadillac passed through a steady red light. The other officer pulled the vehicle over and as he approached, the woman rolled down her window. As the officer requested the woman’s license and registration, he noticed that she had bloodshot, watery eyes, and also detected the strong smell of alcohol on the woman’s breath. The officer further observed that the woman seemed disoriented and unaware of her surroundings. The officer requested the woman to step out of the vehicle, at which he also noticed that the woman was unsteady on her feet. The officer placed the woman under arrest. As the officer was escorting the woman to the squad car, she became very loud and argumentative towards the officer.
According to a New York Criminal Lawyer, the woman was brought to the Precinct Intoxicated Drivers Testing Unit (I.D.T.U.) for the purposes of performing chemical testing. The woman was immediately brought to the basement of the precinct where the breathalyzer testing is performed. Present at the testing site were the arresting officer, his partner and two other officers of the precinct. At no time were Miranda warnings given to the woman by the arresting officer.
The officer of the precinct confirmed that he was the officer responsible for administering the breathalyzer test to the woman. The officer also alleged that he has six years of experience with the I.D.T.U., and has conducted six hundred of such tests at a rate of approximately thirty per month.
The test as administered was videotaped and the videotaped was offered into evidence and carefully reviewed by the court. The court observed that the quality of the audio portion of the tape is extremely poor, rendering it almost inaudible and of questionable use as evidence. For that reason, the court relies mainly on the visual portion of the tape and the testimony of the officer of the precinct in assessing what happened during the woman’s chemical testing. At the beginning, as seen on the tape, the woman permitted the officer when asked to take the breathalyzer. For the reason of her permission, the officer didn’t read full the refusal warnings. However, as the officer attempted to have her blow into the breathalyzer, the woman laughed, carried on in a whimsical manner, and stated that she don’t want to blow and wanted to get her keys to go home. At one point during the efforts to take the test, the woman apparently removed the mouthpiece from the breathalyzer and the officer had to reset the machine. The officer then warned the woman in response to the said conduct and stated that if the woman doesn’t blow into the machine she will lose her license. The woman laughed in response, the officer considered that behavior as a refusal. An NYC Criminal Lawyer said the officer claimed that the full refusal warnings were given to the woman after he deemed her to have refused but were not videotaped.
The court finds that the stop of the woman’s vehicle by the police officer constitutes legally permissible police action. A police officer may approach and stop a vehicle when a reasonable suspicion that a violation of traffic regulations is involved and observed. It is clear that the police action was not the product of simple desire, caprice or idle curiosity, but was performed in response to a traffic infraction personally observed by the arresting officer.
Based on the record, to validate a DWI, the police officer must have had reasonable grounds to effectuate the arrest. Reasonable grounds for an arrest for driving while under the influence of alcohol may be established through the police officer’s observations of the accused person’s condition and/or utilizing the screening or field sobriety tests.
The court finds that based upon the officer’s personal observations of the woman, the officer had probable reason to effectuate the arrest. The officer observed her to have classic signs of intoxication such as bloodshot and watery eyes, strong smell of alcohol on her breath, her appearance of disoriented and was unsteady on her feet. For those reasons, the woman’s motion to suppress her refusal based upon a lack of credible reason is denied.
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