Field Sobriety Tests
Over 30 years of Dedicated DWI Defense
If you are arrested and charged with DWI, you were probably asked by the
arresting officer to perform certain roadside sobriety testing. The sobriety
testing is used by the officer for two reasons. First, the officer is
trying to determine if there is a sufficient basis to arrest you for DWI.
Based on your performance, the officer may conclude that there was "probable
cause" and arrest you for DWI. Second, the officer is evaluating
your performance to determine if you are "impaired" as defined
under the drunk driving statute.
Believe it or not, you can be convicted of DWI by the officer's observations,
by your driving conduct, and by the field sobriety tests alone. The state
does not need to prove your blood alcohol content to convict you of drunk driving.
Do you want to discuss the details of your field sobriety tests? Contact us for a
free case analysis.
Challenging the Validity of Field Sobriety Tests
Given the state's low standard for convicting an individual of DWI,
roadside sobriety testing is a critical issue in your case. Many police
officers and prosecutors fail to understand that the National Highway
Transportation Safety Administration ("NHTSA") has performed
scientific studies to prove the reliability of standardized sobriety tests.
Many police officers and prosecutors will attempt to convince judges that
other non-standardized tests are acceptable as a way of showing impairment.
These prosecutors and police officers are incorrect.
The NHTSA has recommended that only 3 sobriety tests be used:
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus test
- The walk and turn test
- The one leg stand
NHTSA studies have shown that a person who is under the influence of an
alcoholic beverage may be able to perform certain mental tasks or certain
physical tasks but rarely both together. Based on the scientific divided
attention tests, a person under the influence of alcohol is likely to
make measurable errors while attempting these tasks. Judging from the
degree and number of errors made, officers are trained to draw conclusions
on whether you are impaired or under the influence of an alcoholic beverage.
Because the law allows a conviction for driving while intoxicated without
a BAC reading, it is imperative that the police use the appropriate standardized
field sobriety testing recommending by the NHTSA. Otherwise, the state's
use of "alternative" tests is like comparing apples to oranges.
If the law enforcement officer did not use the standardized tests, the
state's case can be vulnerable.
Begin Your Defense Today – Call for a Free Case Consult
New Jersey DWI defense lawyer will review your discovery in detail to see if the appropriate standardized
field sobriety tests were used. We own both the Instructor's Manual
and the Participant's Manual used for training police officers on
these tests. In addition, although the standardized test may have been
used, they may have been administered incorrectly or in an area where
you were set up to fail the tests.
Police often make errors by conducting these tests on uneven surfaces,
while a subject is exposed to a bright light or close to oncoming traffic,
or while the subject is wearing high-heeled shoes. All of these factors
negatively affect the accuracy of the standard field sobriety tests and
may assist in presenting a favorable defense in your case.
Want to learn the merits of your defense options?
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