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Field Sobriety Tests

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Quincy OUI Attorney

If you are pulled over based on a suspicion of driving under the influence, the police officer will most likely ask you to perform a test to help determine whether you are intoxicated or not. This is called a field sobriety test. Their purpose is to determine a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) level. They test the person's physical and mental capabilities while driving. If the person being tested fails even one of the tests, they could be arrested for OUI.

The officer will provide instruction on how to complete the test and the failure to carry out the task shows the officer that the person is probably under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are many field sobriety tests that could be administered including: reciting the alphabet backwards, counting backwards, a finger to nose test, the Romberg balance test, the hand-pat test or the finger-tap test, but these are all either outdated or rarely given.

The three primary tests used are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): The officer will ask you to follow his or her finger or another object twelve inches from your face. The object will move back and forth, up and down and the goal is to follow it with your eyes. The purpose is to see if your eyes are jerking.
  • One Leg Stand: The officer will ask you to raise one leg six inches off the ground while standing straight with your arms by your side. You will have to maintain balance for about 30 seconds while counting aloud.
  • Walk and Turn: The officer will ask the driver to take nine steps in a straight line, then pivot and do the same in the opposite direction. These are heal-to-toe steps and they help the officer determine if you cannot keep balance or count.

Speak with a Quincy OUI lawyer if you have been charged with drunk driving after performing a field sobriety test. There are many errors that can take place and I can work with you to create a solid case defense to help reduce or dismiss your charges entirely.

Preparing a Solid Defense

Although these tests are used on a daily basis throughout Massachusetts, this does not mean that they are the most accurate way to deduce an individual's level of intoxication. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) came up with a standard for field sobriety tests in 1981.

This model was set in place to help law officers determine whether or not a DUI arrest was appropriate after stopping an individual under probable cause. It was never intended to determine the actual intoxication level of a driver. When practiced out in the field, nearly 9 out of every 100 officers inaccurately conducted the tests or received false results, resulting in incorrect accusations.

For this reason, it is essential that if you have been charged for an OUI after performing a field sobriety test, that you seek out the appropriate legal representation.

There are numerous factors that can directly affect the results of this kind of test including:

Physical Features: This can include weight and age, which can contribute majorly to the end test result. Carrying extra weight can make it hard to balance and an older individual may have a harder time hearing, seeing or comprehending directions.

Health Conditions: If the individual has had a recent surgery, illness or physical injury, it can drastically alter the results. Even an inherent inability to balance or act in a coordinated manner can make it hard for a person to walk a straight line. Head injuries especially affecting the inner ear, can greatly influence a person's ability to balance. Additionally, conditions like epilepsy can cause the individual to appear drunk without actually having consumed alcohol.

Weather/Outside Factors: Very cold or extremely hot weather conditions can make it difficult to focus, balance or walk, as weather conditions have the ability to make people distracted, stiff or unable to breathe right. Other things like uneven roads, bad street lighting, fog, rain, wind, and dust in the air can all be cause for a test that is completely inaccurate.

Always speak with a knowledgeable Quincy OUI lawyer before ever assuming that you have no possible case defense. This is simply not true, and while the law officers or prosecution may make you believe that you should just admit guilt, we advise that you do not.

Fighting Faulty Tests

If you believe that the field sobriety tests you performed on the side of the road did not correctly determine whether you were alcohol or drug impaired, our accomplished Quincy DUI lawyer can help you fight the OUI charges. These tests are used to collect evidence against you so that you can be convicted.

There are times that these tests are not administered in a just manner, and our firm can help review the officer's report and examine the case. Through careful evaluation, we can help determine if the test was conducted in a just manner and advocate on your behalf.

We are available 24 hours and 7 days a week to answer any questions you may have and to help investigate further into your case. With our knowledgeable Quincy OUI defense attorney with extensive experience, clients can rest easy knowing that our firm will seek to uncover every aspect of your case without leaving any stone unturned. It is our desire to obtain the positive results you desire and to protect your rights.

Contact the firm to have your case evaluated free of charge and defended to the highest degree.

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