When a driver is pulled over for suspected drunk driving, the law enforcement officer may ask them to participate in a series of physical tests known as field sobriety tests. This is done to determine if the individual is intoxicated. The results of these tests can be used to charge and convict a driver of driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you are charged with a DWI, it is important to contact an experienced Anne Arundel and Howard County traffic and criminal defense lawyer for assistance defending your case.
What are some of the most common examples of field sobriety tests?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has standardized three tests that are usually administered on the side of the road. This includes the following:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The driver is asked to use only their eyes to track the officer’s pen, finger, or flashlight without moving their head. The officer is looking to see if there is any jerking or unsteady movement in the eye, known as Nystagmus.
- Walk and Turn Test: The driver must stand with their right foot in front of their left with their arms at their sides. They then must walk heel to toe for nine steps and turn around properly. Failure to correctly follow each step can be viewed as intoxication.
- One Leg Stand Test: The driver must stand on one foot and count to thirty. If they lose their balance at all or lose their perception of time, it may be seen as intoxication.
Attorney Debra Saltz has taken the same course as law enforcement and is certified in administering field sobriety tests. As such, she knows how to fight the results.
Can I refuse a field sobriety test in Maryland?
Field sobriety tests are completely voluntary. Drivers can, and should, refuse to participate in these tests without any legal repercussions. The results are very subjective. Even if you believe you did well on the tests, the officer may not. Refusing will most likely result in an arrest. However, participation in the tests will likely lead to an arrest as well. By refusing the tests, it ensures there is no evidence of intoxication against the driver.
How are the tests standardized?
Officially, the name of these tests is Standard Field Sobriety Tests. The word “standardized” means that there is a correct way for them to be administered. If the officer improperly administers any part of the test, the results will be compromised.
If you believe you were improperly administered a field sobriety test or received a DWI, please don’t hesitate to speak with our Maryland firm today. We are here to help fight your charges, every step of the way.