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Can a smartphone app save you from a DWI conviction in New York?

Drunk driving laws are very tough in New York. People often find themselves pulled over and being accused of driving while intoxicated when they feel like they are perfectly safe to drive. Some drivers even purchase personal breath test devices and read up on drunk driving laws so that they can get an idea of the point at which an officer might consider them legally intoxicated, because the legal standards seem somewhat arbitrary to them.

A smartphone application has recently been developed to help drivers learn about their legal rights in relation to drunk driving investigations. The "Oh Crap" app was designed by lawyers in the Midwest to teach citizens about their options. It even has a feature that helps drivers calculate their blood-alcohol content so they can learn whether they might be over or under the legal threshold of .08 percent.

The app can also record up to 15 minutes of audio. This is designed to help a driver's criminal defense attorney later evaluate the traffic stop and determine whether police respected the driver's rights during the DWI investigation. Currently, this app is only available in Iowa, and the recording function would not be legal in all 50 states.

A state patrol officer in Iowa has reported that he is not a fan of the app, because he thinks it helps people avoid being pulled over for driving drunk.

The creators of the app, however, maintain that the goal is to educate drivers. The truth is, many drivers do not realize that after having just a couple of drinks they might fail a breath test. Even fewer drivers are likely to be aware of their rights when stopped by the police.

In many cases, drunk driving defendants think that they have no option other than to plead guilty when facing DWI charges. This is not true; even when the evidence seems stacks against an individual, viable criminal defense strategies may exist. It can be very helpful to understand your rights before and during a traffic stop. In any case, if you end up facing drunk driving charges in New York, it is very important to seek legal counsel from an experienced drunk driving attorney in order to resolve the case in the best possible manner.

Source: Fox News, "'Oh Crap' app: Preventing or promoting drunk driving," Lauren Blanchard, April 5, 2014

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