Experienced Criminal Defense Services

Is BAC testing mandatory during a DWI traffic stop?

People largely understand that they have to give respect to get respect. During a traffic stop, most people do their best to comply with a police officer’s requests and treat them with respect. They do so in the hopes of securing respectful treatment from the officer.

However, there is a fine line between acting out of respect for an officer and putting oneself at a serious disadvantage. Those who simply comply with every request that an officer makes could increase their chances of criminal prosecution. For example, during driving while intoxicated (DWI) traffic stops, police officers may try to get people to agree to requests that could eventually build a case against them in criminal court.

The officers may ask people to perform certain tests if they suspect someone of drunk driving. Is such testing mandatory under state law?

Drivers can decline some test requests

The circumstances in which an officer requests testing determine whether or not a driver can decline the test without penalty. As a general rule, there is no law mandating submission to field sobriety tests. If officers ask people to exit their vehicles and perform a series of physical tasks, drivers can decline without putting themselves at risk of arrest or any secondary penalties.

Depending on the circumstances, they can also sometimes decline breath test requests. There is an implied consent law in New York. Drivers have to submit to chemical testing after a police officer arrests them for impaired driving. Refusing a test is a separate offense that the state can prosecute in addition to a drunk driving charge.

The penalties for violating the implied consent law by refusing post-arrest chemical testing involve an additional driver’s license suspension. Those who worry that test results may not be accurate can potentially use those concerns as part of their defense strategies. Certain medications or health challenges might lead to inaccurate test results. Additionally, if police departments don’t properly maintain and calibrate testing units, the results may not be reliable.

Understanding what testing is mandatory under the law and what drivers can refuse may help motorists better navigate DWI traffic stops. Those who know their rights may have an easier time asserting them during many stressful situations, like a drunk driving traffic stop.