It sometimes happens that being pulled over for a minor
traffic infraction can lead to being charged with something more serious.
Recently, a woman in Niagara Falls was pulled over for failing to signal a
to the Buffalo News, the woman was driving with a revoked license for a
prior DWI conviction and had open beer cans in the back seat of her car. She failed
the Field Sobriety Tests administered to her and was then charged with several
DWI-related offenses, as well as failure to use a turn signal, which was why
she was initially pulled over. Read this blog post to learn more about New
York’s Open Container Law, as well as how minor traffic infractions like those
described here can lead to more serious charges and how an attorney can help.
Open Container Law and Penalties
In New York State, it is against the law to drink from or have an open container of alcohol in a public place. This law does not apply to residences or business establishments with liquor licenses, but it does prohibit drivers and passengers from possessing or consuming an open container of alcohol in the car. The law applies even when the car is not being driven, meaning being inside a parked vehicle does not allow you to have a drink. The only way to be sure that you will not get in trouble with the law for having an open bottle of alcohol in your car is if it is in the trunk.
If a police officer discovers you transporting open bottles of alcohol in your car, you could be charged a fine. However, it is possible that this discovery could lead to the assumption that you were driving under the influence of alcohol. This means that the officer could ask to administer a Blood Alcohol Test or various Field Sobriety Tests to determine whether or not you have been drinking and driving.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
There are several Standardized Field Sobriety Tests that a
police office could ask you to perform in order to determine if you have been
driving under the influence of alcohol before they charge you with a DWI. The
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally allows three of these
tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand, and the
walk-and-turn. In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the police officer will
move their finger, a pen, or another object from side to side. You will be
asked to follow the object with your eyes so the officer can see if you are
able to do so without your eyes exhibiting a jerking motion. In the
walk-and-turn test, you will be required to walk heel to toe in a straight
line. You will then be expected to turn around and walk heel to toe back to
your original position.
You may be asked to perform any combination of these tests,
as well as others not formally allowed by the NTSA, but it is important to
remember that you are not required to perform any of them. If you have been
arrested and refuse these tests, however, you could incur another traffic
infraction. As a licensed driver, you are also subject to the Implied Consent
Law. This law says that, as a result of having a driver’s license, you have
already consented to a blood, urine, or breath test if you are suspected of drunk
driving. Refusal to take these tests could result in your license being
suspended for at least a year.
Who to call
If you have been pulled over for a violation of the open
container law and you have been or fear you could be charged with DWI, contact
the attorneys at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria. The firm’s DWI attorneys are
recognized as leaders in the field. They are well-versed in potential penalties
and are able to uncover weaknesses in the charges against you. Lipsitz Green’s
attorneys will provide you with an aggressive and effective DWI defense.
This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.