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Suffolk County DWI Lawyers

Basics of DWI in Suffolk County

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Daniel G. Rodgers, PLLC

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Basics of DWI In Suffolk County


The law surrounding Suffolk County New York DWI Laws is so expansive and complicated that sometimes it’s worth wild to take a step back and just talk about the basics of a New York DWI.


In New York, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher. It is also illegal to drive while under the influence. While every person is different, with a different metabolism and different tolerances, a mere two drinks in an hour can certainly get a driver to a 0.08 percent. Additionally, person is “under the influence” if they cannot operate a vehicle as a reasonable and sober person would have under similar circumstances.


Now, let’s be very clear. A person does not have to be above a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more to be charged with a Suffolk County DWI if they were under the influence. Similarly, a person does not have to be under the influence to be charged with a Suffolk County DWI if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more. Having said that, most people who are caught driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher will be charged with both under New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1192.2 and 1192.3 respectively. Yes, you read that correct. Most people who get a New York State DWI or DUI are actually looking at two separate charges.


For example, John is heavy in weight and is an alcoholic. If John drinks four beers in an hour, he may likely have a blood alcohol content of above a 0.08 percent, but he’ll probably not be “under the influence” because he can function as though he were sober. He will still be arrested, charged, and may be convicted of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more.

On the other hand, for example, Jane is underweight and very rarely drinks. If she were to have one glass of wine, she may not be above a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more, but she may certainly not be able to function as a sober person would. As such, while she cannot be charged with having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, she may very well be arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.


Whether a person is a 0.08 percent or higher, or if they are under the influence, officers have no knowledge of either when they decide to pull someone over. They might suspect that a person is under the influence based on observed driving patterns, but that alone is not enough to arrest a person. A Suffolk County Police  officer must have probable cause to arrest a driver for a DWI. An officer has probable cause when they have trustworthy facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the driver was either a 0.08 percent or higher, or that they were driving under the influence.


The key is that the police officer must have facts that the driver is driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired before they can make the arrest. The officer can obtain the facts to meet the probable cause standard through observation of driving patterns, statements made by the drive (ex. “I had a few beers with dinner”), smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath, bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, poor performance on field sobriety tests, and failure of a roadside breathalyzer.


Once a person has been lawfully arrested for a Suffolk County DWI, meaning the officer does have the requisite probable cause to make the arrest, the driver must submit to either a breath test or a blood test under New York State Vehicle and Traffic law. Not doing so can lead to increased penalties with both the court as well as the New York State  DMV.


Speaking of the New York State DMV, when a person is caught driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more, it triggers an action by the DMV to determine whether the driver’s license should be suspended.  The person’s license will be suspended, the time of which will be dependent upon prior DWI's and whether the driver refused the required breath or blood test. If the hearing is won, albeit unlikely, the driving privileges are saved…for now.

After the arrest, the driver must challenge the DWI in a Suffolk County court. If convicted, the driver faces some serious consequences. 


Even the basics are extremely complicated. A driver absolutely should not try to tackle a Suffolk County DWI case on their own. They should hire an experienced Suffolk County DWI  attorney who understands New York State DWI law and who practice it every day. Having a Suffolk County DWI lawyer can be the difference between going to jail and not.


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We are DWI driving while intoxicated lawyers and attorneys who serve the Suffolk County areas of Huntington, Babylon, Smithtown, Islip, Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southampton, East Hampton, Southold and Shelter Island.