Wednesday, December 28, 2011

DWI Law - New York Says Falure To Cross on Field Tests Not Ineffective

In People of the State of New York v. Biro, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2011 WL 2279160 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.), 2011 N.Y. Slip Op. 04856 the defendant was convicted of DWI and he claimed that his lawyer was ineffective. The lawyer did not challenge the legality of the stop, probable cause for the arrest, nor did he cross-examine the arresting officers on the field tests or chemical tests. The appellate court rejected that proposition:

"Although defense counsel did not cross-examine the officers concerning administration of the field and chemical sobriety tests, defendant fails to identify a single error in those tests with respect to which defense counsel should have inquired. Moreover, the record establishes that defense counsel's strategy was to challenge the People's allegation that defendant was operating the vehicle in question, an element of the charges against him. In accordance with that strategy, defense counsel elicited testimony during cross-examination of the officers that the vehicle was stopped and the engine was off when they approached it, that the vehicle appeared to be disabled and that the vehicle may have been operated by defendant's father, who was sitting in the passenger seat thereof."

Very little in regards to the facts was recited in the opinion, other than the fact that the vehicle was parked partially in the traffic lane of a roadway, thereby creating a traffic hazard. Additionally, the record also purportedly established that the police had probable cause to arrest defendant based on, inter alia, the odor of alcohol and the open container of alcohol in the vehicle, defendant's admission that he had been drinking and his failure to pass field sobriety tests.

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