The Stop For DWI


Breath Test and Field Tests

When a driver is stopped by the police, and the officer suspects that the driver has been operating the vehicle in an intoxicated state, the officer may request that the driver take Field Sobriety Tests and/or a Preliminary Breath Test. The Officer will use the result of these tests as probable cause to make an arrest for DWI in Buffalo NY.

What is the Preliminary Breath Test?

The Preliminary Breath Test is typically performed by the driver blowing into a device called the Alco-Sensor (or another passive alcohol sensor (PAS) that can obtain a reading without blowing into it). These devices are used at the location of the motor vehicle stop.

What is the Alco-Sensor Portable Breath Test Machine?

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The Alco-Sensor is a handheld infrared breath testing machine that is used as a screening device to determine whether a driver is intoxicated. The New York State Police, and most other police agencies in the Buffalo New York area, use the Alco-Sensor as an alcohol screening device.

DWI Field Tests

The Field Sobriety Tests can include the One Leg Stand Test, the Finger to Nose Test, the Walk and Turn Test, the Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Alphabet Test, the Rhomberg Test, and/or the Finger Count Test. Some of these tests require special training so officers generally do not use all of them at the time of the stop.

Result of Failing the DWI Preliminary Tests

If the driver fails some of the Field Sobriety Tests and/or registers a high enough reading on the Alco-Sensor, the driver may be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) as there may be probable cause to make the arrest. The driver will then be taken to the station, and within two hours will be asked to take a chemical test called the breathalyser, or datamaster or some other sort of advanced infrared breath testing device. If the driver is unwilling to take the test at the station, he will be deemed to have "refused" the test.

Should You Take the Field Sobriety Tests and Blow into the Alco-Sensor?

Unless you have not been drinking at all I suggest that you dont submit yourself to these tests as they may lead to the officer having probable cause to make the arrest. Even if you have not been drinking some people will fail some of the field tests even when sober. Keep in mind, that you are likely to be arrested anyway if the officer thinks you are drunk even if you are not, especially if the stop occurred late at night or very early in the morning.