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What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

OUI Lawyer in Boston

Were you pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and asked to perform a series of exercises? These are referred to as field sobriety tests, formulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine impairment. However, as the NHTSA will admit, the tests are not always reliable. Officers may administer the test incorrectly or the driver may perform poorly because of nerves, fatigue, and other factors. When the tests are administered, the officers only note what the driver did wrong, and not what he or she did right, and this can lead to false accusations of intoxication.

Let an experienced Boston DUI lawyer represent you in your DUI case. Call (617) 925-6772 for a free consultation. We also have offices in Plymouth, Hingham, and Quincy.

If you have undergone a field sobriety test and were arrested for drunk driving, it is crucial that you obtain the help of an experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer. By calling Jack Diamond Law Offices for a free consultation, we can help you understand the charges you face and the legal options you have available. If hired, we will do whatever we can to reduce the charges or have them dismissed altogether.

The “Per Se” Law in Massachusetts

In our state, field sobriety tests are particularly important. Due to a law passed in July 2003, drivers can be proven guilty of a DUI if their right to operate a vehicle was impaired by the amount of alcohol that they consumed, or if their BAC was at or above 0.08%. Field sobriety tests may play largely into the prosecution’s evidence against the defendant.

The Field Sobriety Tests

Officers may ask you to perform all of the field sobriety tests while you are detained, or only or two one of them.

The three NHTSA-validated tests are the:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus: Demonstrates smooth eye movement or lack thereof to determine intoxication. Officers will use objects for the person’s eyes to track while the officer observes the person’s ability to see clearly
  • Nine step walk and turn: Used to show how well a person is able to balance, as a lack of balance could be grounds for arrest for OUI
  • One leg stand test: Person must hold a position while standing on one leg without swaying, using their arms to balance, or hopping

While there are other tests that may be used by law enforcement, these three are the only ones that are validated. Other tests should not be considered as evidence of inebriation. All tests must be administered on a non-slippery, hard, and dry surface in a well-lit area. Police must keep in mind that a person with neck, back, or mobility problems will have difficulty completing the tests. Also, drivers with ADD, ADHD, or another mental illness may struggle to perform the tests even when sober.

Can You Refuse These Tests?

Yes, the state of Massachusetts gives drivers the option to refuse field sobriety tests. We suggest that you decline if asked to participate. The evidence from these tests will only be used against you. Most officers will document any mistakes you make without noting tests you performed correctly.

Protect yourself by avoiding field sobriety tests and speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible. Our aggressive Boston OUI attorney, Jack Diamond, is a former prosecutor fighting relentlessly for his clients.

Arrested for a DUI? There is hope. Call (617) 925-6772 or contact us online right now to get started.