A police officer can pull your car over if they have reasonable suspicion that you’re intoxicated, such as seeing you swerve into the oncoming lanes and then back into your own lane. That’s enough for a traffic stop, and the officer may determine that they believe you are intoxicated or impaired by alcohol after they conduct that stop.
All of this can certainly lead to an arrest, but it doesn’t automatically lead to a conviction. For that, there needs to be evidence that you actually were intoxicated and that you broke the law by driving while in that condition. What types of evidence do the police use?
The legal limit
First and foremost, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration has been set at 0.08% for the majority of drivers. There are exceptions for drivers who are under 21 years of age or for commercial drivers, both of whom have lower limits. In any case, a driver who exceeds this limit can see their BAC reading used as evidence of intoxication, even if they claim that they weren’t impaired. Going over this limit allows the court to presume that the driver was impaired.
Even in cases when someone’s BAC wasn’t over 0.08%, the authorities may attempt to prove that you were intoxicated. The evidence they can submit includes things like failed field sobriety tests. This means that you can get charged with drunk driving even if there’s no evidence of your blood alcohol concentration at all (if they didn’t do a breath test) or if it was under the legal limit. But providing evidence is more difficult for the police in that type of situation.
If you are facing charges in New York, be sure you understand all the legal defense options at your disposal.