Man Arrested for DWI While Sleeping in Back Seat of his Car

In May 2013, Elisa Silva, a 38 year old male from Connecticut, had a few drinks in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan in New York. After drinking, Silva took a nap in the back seat of his car, which was legally parked. Silva claims he was woken by a police officer who arrested him for a DWI, asserting that he observed Silva operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. Contrarily, Silva contents that he did not sit in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, put the keys in the ignition, or operate his vehicle in any manner. Silva also alleges that the police officer falsified a sworn police statement.

Silva’s DWI charge was dismissed in 2014, after an 18-month long law suit. Silva’s current suit alleges false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Challenging a DWI Arrest

One way to challenge a DWI charge is to question the legality of the arrest and the conduct by the arresting officer. When considering whether an arrest for a DWI was lawful, one may look at factors such as:

  • Legality of the stop
  • Existence of probable cause to arrest
  • Legality of the arresting officer’s conduct

Lawful Traffic Stop Leading to a DWI

One of the most common ways that offenders are arrested for DWIs are sobriety checkpoints. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court held, in 1990, that despite “their intrusion on individual liberties,” being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint does not violate a driver’s Fourth Amendment protections. Despite this groundbreaking ruling, DWI offenders continue to challenge the lawfulness of their sobriety checkpoints. If arrested for a DWI resulting from a traffic stop, not a sobriety checkpoint, an officer must have probable cause to stop and subsequently arrest the driver.

Probable Cause to Arrest

In order for an officer to have probable cause to arrest a driver for a DWI, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the driver has committed a crime. The crime does not necessarily have to be driving while intoxicated, as an officer has probable cause if the driver:

  • Is driving exceptionally fast
  • Is driving recklessly
  • Is driving the wrong way
  • Is driving exceptionally slow
  • Is weaving in and out of lanes
  • Is unable to stay in one lane
  • Is not obeying traffic signs and/or lights

The Arresting Officer’s Conduct

Another way to challenge a DWI arrest is to evaluate the arresting officer’s conduct. Police officers have a duty to perform certain procedures prior to arresting an individual, such as:

  • Reading the offender his or her Miranda rights
  • Informing the driver that he or she is not required to submit to a sobriety test or a breathalyzer test
  • Not forcing the driver to comply with police orders, if not required to do so

If you have been charged with a DWI but believe your arrest was unlawful, it is vital that you seek a strong legal defense to assist you in challenging your DWI arrest. The trial attorneys at the Wilder DWI Defense firm are highly skilled and knowledgeable on the appropriate protocols and procedures in DWI arrests and are qualified to guide you through the challenging process. Contact the firm today to schedule your free consultation.