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Nassau County Criminal Defense Law Blog

Are sobriety checkpoints legal?

Summertime means time off for festive holidays (July 4th anyone?), family vacations and time spent out on the boat. These activities often involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages, prompting many law enforcement agencies - including those in Nassau County - to increase patrols for DWI.

One way law enforcement has traditionally handled DWI enforcement is through the use of sobriety checkpoints, especially around prominent summer holidays like July 4th (Independence Day), Labor Day weekend and Memorial Day weekend. And while DWI checkpoints have been used for years at this point, many still question their legality.

Field sobriety testing for intoxication can be misinterpreted


When a law enforcement official pulls over a New York driver because they suspect the driver has alcohol in their system, they may ask the driver to get out of their vehicle and to perform certain physical tests. These physical tests are not difficult for individuals of normal physical and mental capacities but for those who are intoxicated completion of them may be difficult. However, intoxication is not the only reason that a person may fail a field sobriety test.


For example, an officer may ask a driver to walk in a straight line and execute a clean turn before returning back to the point where they started. During the test the officer may watch for loss of balance, uncoordinated movements and other signs that alcohol is impairing the individual before them. Certain medical conditions can affect drivers' balance and without a drop of alcohol in their system a driver may fail a test such as this because they suffer from a medical condition.

Can I drive with prescription painkillers?

Some individuals believe they receive less punishment if a cop stops them for driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Since they are taking something that the doctor recommends, they think the rules towards driving under the influence should not apply as heavily to them.

In New York, that is not the case. The law states that you cannot drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, regardless if they are prescription or not. Many prescription drugs can impair your ability to drive. They can make you drowsy and cause you to lose focus and reaction time. Cops will be on high alert for any signs of suspicious driving in a congested state like New York.

What is a search warrant?


Readers of this New York criminal defense legal blog are asked to imagine the following situation. An individual is sitting at home watching television and suddenly there is a knock at their door. When they open it, they find a number of police officers standing before them who claim that they will be searching the premises of the individual's home. They do not provide the individual with any explanation of why they are taking such action.


What is criminal battery?


Criminal charges of all forms can be damaging to the reputations and futures of the individuals who must face them. Those who are forced to confront erroneous charges are encouraged to seek out legal guidance from individuals who can give them case-specific advice. While this New York criminal defense legal blog does not provide advice on the topic of battery, readers may use the contents of this post as a place to introduce themselves to this specific criminal charge.


New York Jets player charged with DWI


A drunk driving charge can be alleged against any person, regardless of their age, social standing or occupation. Just recently a new draft pick to the New York Jets was arrested after allegedly causing a vehicle accident and being under the influence of alcohol the time.


What is a zero tolerance law?


It is almost summer and all throughout New York, high school seniors are participating in their graduation ceremonies. Leaving high school is a big step for many young people and often signifies their transition from childhood to adulthood. However, while a youth may begin to enjoy a host of new rights and responsibilities as they prepare for life after high school, there is one important right that they cannot embrace until they reach the age of 21.

Underage drinking is illegal in our state and individuals who are found guilty of doing so can face suspensions of the driving privileges. In fact, underage drinking and driving is so serious in our state that it has imposed a zero tolerance law. The remainder of this post will discuss how zero tolerance laws operate, but readers should seek out their own advice for their specific legal needs.

Factors that may elevate a DWI charge to aggravated DWI


No drunk driving allegation is easy to overcome but some charges carry with them penalties that are more straightforward to defend or negotiate through plea deals. Aggravated DWI charges, however, are very serious and New Yorkers who must face them may seek the support of trained criminal defense attorneys to assist them in their legal battles. This post will discuss just some of the factors that can raise standard DWI charges to aggravated DWI charges.

One of the most common ways for a DWI charge to become an aggravated DWI charge is for the driver's blood alcohol concentration to allegedly be very high. If the driver's BAC is at least twice the legal limit they may find themselves defending an aggravated drunk driving charge rather than a normal drunk driving charge.

Explaining the plain-view doctrine in New York


Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, U.S. citizens - including New Yorkers - cannot be subjected to unlawful searches and seizures, including arrests. Criminal defense attorneys rely on the Fourth Amendment as a legal cornerstone when analyzing a defendant's case. They must determine whether law enforcement acted properly when their client or the client's property was searched or seized.


Unless a warrant has been issued, a law enforcement officer cannot typically conduct a search, seize property or arrest a person without, in the language of the Fourth Amendment, "probable cause." However, as always seems to be the case in the law, there are a few exceptions to the probable cause requirement for warrantless searches and seizures. One is known as the plain-view doctrine, which was shaped by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Coolidge v. New Hampshire.

3 times you can’t claim self defense

Say you’re outside of a local business and see a stranger being harassed. You try to intervene, and a fight breaks out. You manage to subdue the attacker, and are relieved to see the police approaching. The next thing you know, though, you’re the one being arrested.

Fighting to defend yourself or another is legal in New York, but there are situations where it can go too far, and you will not be able to claim self-defense in court. If you’ve been arrested for assault or worse when defending yourself or others, immediately seek an experienced criminal defense attorney, and be sure to educate yourself on the law.

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Lerner & Lerner, P.C.

Former prosecutors with more than 50 years of combined experience

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