Oh no, you had a couple of beers while watching the game at your friend Joe’s house. You see that familiar red flash in the rear view mirror and suddenly you are ten times more nervous than if you had nothing to drink at all. Your heart starts beating rapidly and you begin sweating profusely. You don’t know what to do.

Well folks, here’s the deal…

1. Don’t drink then get behind the wheel in the first place. However, since you are now sweating and the officer is walking up to your window, you’re probably past that point so let’s move to number two.

2. You can be compliant with the officer without giving him cause to arrest you. If he asks for your license and registration, provide them to him. You are under no obligation to roll your window down further than is necessary to effectively hand him your papers. Regardless of whether you had one beer or 10, the officer is going to “smell” the odor of an alcoholic beverage if that window is rolled all the way down.

3. Don’t say anything to him. If you feel you must reply to a question, simply state that you refuse to answer any questions. Yes, you are going to get the ticket for whatever he pulled you over for, but the less information that you provide him voluntarily, the less legal reasons he has to pull you out of the car and begin field sobriety tests.

4. He may ask you if you’ve been drinking. He may try to trick you and just go straight to, “So, how much have you had to drink tonight?” Yep, he may get mad at you, but the best idea is to just keep your mouth shut. (FYI, in over 80% of DWI arrests, the driver voluntarily reports to the police officer that he or she had “2 beers.”) So, if you report drinking any amount, he may have cause to begin investigating you for DWI or DWAI (Driving while ability impaired by drugs or by the combined influence of drugs and alcohol.)

5. Hopefully, the officer will return to his car and run your driver’s license and registration and then return to you with a regular ticket. If you are sober, proceed on your merry way to wherever you are heading. If you think you may be over the limit, stop your vehicle at the first place you find where it is safe to stop. Get out. Call Billy or Darlene or whoever to come give you a ride. Don’t keep driving.

6. If he asks you to step out of the vehicle, ask him if you may call your attorney. You can always call the Kokosa Law Firm at (518) 907-4694. Twenty-four hours a day, we take phone calls and usually it will be an attorney who answers. However, the officer may not allow you to call your attorney until after he finishes his DWI standard field sobriety tests, also known as SFSTs.

7. If you have an ailment that will affect your ability to perform a test, now is the time to let the officer know. If you have problems with your eyes such as glaucoma, say, “I can’t do that test, I have glaucoma.” They may ask you if you have any problems with your hips or legs when they ask you to do other tests. Many people have scoliosis of spine to some degree. Make this known, because he won’t ask. Remember, everything the officer is doing is to build evidence against you so he can put you in handcuffs.

8. The officer may administer a roadside breath test. This is known as the portable breath test or PBT. If you refuse to take this test, the officer can add another charge against you. Keep in mind, in Court, the test results can only be used to identify whether your breath is positive or negative for alcohol content, not how much you’ve had to drink. A good DWI attorney can work around a positive reading on the PBT.

9. If you are placed under arrest, do not fight with the officer. Do not pull away from the officer. Do not think that you can say something that will get you out of the arrest. This will only make things worse and you will end up with more charges.

10. The officer will transport you to the station. There they will observe you for a period of time to make sure that you do not burp, regurgitate, or place anything into your mouth. If you do any of these, the observation period has to start over. This observation period occurs prior to the officer instructing you to take the actual breathalyzer. The instrument used most widely in New York is the Datamaster breath test.

11. If you haven’t been able to so far, this is the time to call your attorney (or the Kokosa Law Firm at (518) 907-4694). Some attorneys have a standard decision they tell their clients on whether they should blow into the tube or not. The decision is now that easy. You need an attorney who can ask you five quick questions regarding your arrest and past conduct before advising you to blow or not to blow.

12. Depending on the results, you may be given a second ticket for DWI. In New York, there are two charges for driving while intoxicated call DWI per se, and common law DWI. Common law DWI is what you were arrested for at the scene and is based on the officer’s general knowledge about how intoxicated people perform during tests. DWI per se is a charge that means you’re blood alcohol content (BAC) was over the legal limit. For a standard adult driver operating a passenger vehicle, that amount is .08 of one percentum.

13. If you remain under arrest at this point, the officer has several options on how to handle you. He could take you before a judge at that time to be arraigned, he could issue you an appearance ticket for another date and release you to a sober party, or he can place you in lock up for the night and bring you to an arraignment the next morning. Generally, if you assert your rights while remaining respectful, most officers will release you to a sober party and give you an appearance ticket that directs you to show up at court on a later date and time.

14. Again, if you haven’t done so even at this point, you need to call an attorney who is experienced in DWI and DWAI-Drugs (1192.2, 1192.3, 1192.4). At the Kokosa Law Firm, before we represented people charged with these crimes, we were prosecutors. We know the difference between a legal arrest and an illegal arrest. We know whether the instruments have been calibrated correctly. We know the NHSTA standards for conducting field sobriety tests. If you already have an attorney that you are comfortable with, call them as soon as possible. Otherwise, call us. We will provide you a free consultation and case evaluation. Please remember, DWI is a crime in New York and the prosecutor will treat you as a criminal. You need an attorney.dwi