If you are pulled over while driving and the officer suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he may ask you to step out of the vehicle and perform a field sobriety test. The purpose of this test is to give him the necessary “probable cause” to make an arrest. The officer’s mere suspicion you have been drinking is not enough for an arrest. However, if you do not pass the field sobriety test, the officer then has the probable cause he needs and can take you into custody for driving under the influence.
Unfortunately, the field sobriety test is deeply flawed and whether or not a driver passes is based almost entirely on the opinion of the officer. This means if you perform each of the tests relatively well and any failings can be explained by other factors (it’s raining, you are wearing high heels, etc.), the officer may still determine that you did not pass and place you under arrest. An experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer can dispute these results and challenge your arrest.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
Most field sobriety tests are made up of the same components:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The officer will ask you to stare straight ahead while he or she watches your eyes for involuntary side-to-side movements associated with alcohol use.
- Walk and Turn: For this test, the driver must walk in a straight line, heel to toe, turn and walk back – all while counting the steps aloud.
- One-Leg Stand: The driver is asked to stand with legs together and arms down, then lift one leg 6 inches off of the ground. The driver must then look at his or her foot and count until directed to stop. The test lasts for 30 seconds.
While these tests are used to look for over-consumption of alcohol, there are countless reasons an individual might fail these tests, such as vertigo or leg injuries. Both the Walk and Turn and the One-Leg Stand focus on physical impairment, which is not always an accurate indication of the driver’s alcohol intake. A New Jersey DWI attorney will aggressively challenge the results of a failed field sobriety test and attempt to show that any difficulty with the tests is attributable to factors unrelated to alcohol.
Call a New Jersey DWI Attorney for a Free Consultation
Failing a field sobriety test does not necessarily mean you were intoxicated and it does not guarantee a conviction of your DWI charge. With a skilled New Jersey DWI attorney on your side, you can dispute the test and attempt to beat the charges brought against you. If you are facing a DWI charge, call David C. Barry, Attorney at Law at 732-238-8686 today for a free consultation.