Wednesday, January 29, 2014

No Lights, Low Lights, or High Lights: Defending the New York DWI Stop for High Beams

This video focuses on how I explore (at a suppression hearing) the three areas of questioning (cross examination) for the police stop for the infraction of Dazzling Head Lamps (lights).

High beams, were they really on? 

Police officers who claim that a cars head lights drew their attention draws my attention as a criminal defense attorney. Sometimes they claim no head lights were on, as in "inadequate lights" violation.

Sometimes they claim that the head lights were "dazzling."

New York State VTL 375 (2) (b)

  2. (a) Every motor vehicle except a motorcycle, driven upon a public
  highway during the period from one-half hour after  sunset  to  one-half
  hour  before  sunrise or at any other time when windshield wipers are in
  use, as a result  of  rain,  sleet,  snow,  hail  or  other  unfavorable
  atmospheric  condition,  and  at  such  other  times as visibility for a
  distance of one thousand feet ahead of such motor vehicle is not  clear,
  shall display:
    1.  at  least  two  lighted head lamps on the front, one on each side,
  having light sources of equal power;
    2. if manufactured prior to January first, nineteen hundred fifty-two,
  at least one lighted lamp on the rear which shall display  a  red  light
  visible from the rear for a distance of at least five hundred feet;
    3.  if  manufactured  on  or  after  January  first,  nineteen hundred
  fifty-two, at least two lighted lamps on the rear,  one  on  each  side,
  which  lamps  shall  display  a  red  light  visible from the rear for a
  distance of at least one thousand feet; and
    4.  if  required  to display a number plate on the rear, a white light
  which shall illuminate the numerals on such plate in such manner  as  to
  render  such numerals legible for at least fifty feet from the rear. The
  provisions of this subparagraph shall also apply to trailers.
    (b) All lamps used on a motor vehicle except a motorcycle shall be  so
  arranged,  adjusted and operated, as to avoid dangerous glare or dazzle.
  Except as provided in paragraph  (d)  of  this  subdivision,  the  upper
  outline  of  any  beam  of  dazzling  light projected to the left of the
  longitudinal axis of the vehicle by the lowermost light distribution  of
  a  headlamp  designed to produce more than one light distribution, or by
  the single light distribution of any other lamp used  on  such  a  motor
  vehicle,  shall  not  rise  higher than the lamp center at a distance of
  twenty-five feet nor higher than  forty-two  inches  at  a  distance  of
  seventy-five  feet.  In  each  case,  the  height  of  the beam shall be
  measured from the plane upon which the vehicle stands and  the  distance
  shall be measured from the lamp projecting the light.

4th amendment to the constitution

There shall be No unreasonable search and seizure (stops by the police)

1. I always check to see if they were actually blinded by the lights, were their eyes affected?
2. I check to see if hey had to change their driving, did it affect their operation?
3. I check to see if they actually checked the lights, were they special lights? Xenon lights?
Or were they really set to high beams?

The best New York State high beams (dazzling lights) case to defend is:

PEOPLE v. ALLEN2008-03239.

89 A.D.3d 742 (2011)
932 N.Y.S.2d 142
2011 NY Slip Op 7853


We agree with the defendant's contention that in order to constitute interference, a defendant's use of high beams must "hinder or hamper the vision of [the] approaching motorist" so as to actually have an effect upon the other driver's operation of his or her vehicle (id. at 395). For example, in People v Meola, the Court of Appeals found sufficient proof of interference where a State Trooper testified that the defendant's high beams caused the officer to reduce his speed (id. at 395-396).
Here, by contrast, the proof adduced at the suppression hearing was insufficient to demonstrate that the defendant's use of his high beams affected the State Trooper's operation of his vehicle. Although the State Trooper was caused to squint, the defendant's high beams did not hinder or hamper the vision of the State Trooper so as to affect the operation of his vehicle.
So the high beams (the dazzling) lights must affect the vision of the other driver before it could be considered a "VIOLATION."
Otherwise the police stop is illegal and IMPROPER in these situations.
Originally, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My father was a NYS corrections officer, and my mother a waitress. I now live in Ithaca, NY with my wife (of 25 years), and four kids. I have a B.S. in Human Biology, Doctorates in Law and Chiropractic, and a Post Graduate in Acupuncture. I practiced as a Chiropractic Physician in Florida from 1986 to 1995. I graduated law school in 1997, and went on to practice trial law in FL, NY, NJ, and PA. I love practicing criminal defense and injury law within the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.
Over 90% of the cases that I take on are New York DWI defense cases. I am certified as a breath tester by the Department of Transportation, the guidelines of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). I am certified in Field Sobriety Tests, and an active member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD). My online materials include over 450 blog posts, dozens of articles, and over 440 informative videos on my youtube channel.
I have co-authored Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, in both 2011 and 2013. These are West Thomson legal manuals on New York State DWI defense, and focus on the best practices for other lawyers handling a New York DWI case. Included in Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York are materials I provide clients, such as my fee agreement and ways to avoid misdemeanor probation. I was selected by Super Lawyers as a Upstate New York 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI Defense based on my experience, contributions, and professional standing.
Reviews of Larry Newman:
Chosen as a 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI in Upstate New York by Super Lawyers
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