Field sobriety tests are coordination tests that police use to determine a person’s ability to drive, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn test. These tests are not scientific and are built for failure, with significant margins of error.
It is important to note that you are not legally obligated to consent to field sobriety tests in New Britain during a traffic stop. To learn more about your rights, contact a DUI lawyer at Ruane Attorneys today.
Are Field Sobriety Tests Required by Law?
No one is legally required to take a field sobriety test under any circumstances. It is not illegal to refuse a test. If a person is overweight, elderly, or physically disabled, there is even more reason to refuse a field sobriety test after a DUI stop. The police will have a hard time in court trying to justify putting a person with physical difficulties through a field test.
Implied consent essentially means that driving is a privilege in Connecticut, and the state premises that privilege on a driver’s consent to take a breath test. Although a driver may refuse a field sobriety test, it is implied by having a license that they will consent to a breath test. However, they still have the right to refuse a breath test, although they may face penalties from the DMV. Our New Britain attorneys could further explain the potential consequences of refusing a field sobriety test.
The Three Types of Field Sobriety Tests
There are three field sobriety tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn test. A lawyer at our firm could further explain these tests and how they may impact a DUI case.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
Nystagmus is when a person’s eyes bounce back and forth. In a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the police officer stands with a pen or a pencil about 12 inches from the driver’s face and slightly above eye level. The driver must track the pen with their eyes but without moving their head. The theory is that if intoxicated, their eyes will start to bounce when they move.
The officer will observe the following:
- Whether the eye tracks across from left to right and right to left equally
- Whether the bouncing starts before the pen is at 45 degrees, around the driver’s nose
- Whether the driver’s eye bounces while they are trying to look at the pen at the maximum of their field of vision
There are 38 different medical reasons for nystagmus. Additionally, if the driver is required to look at the pen for too long, that will cause nystagmus. As our New Britain lawyers can attest, this field sobriety test is not an accurate measure of intoxication.
One-Leg Stand Test
The one-leg stand test is even less reliable than the horizontal gaze nystagmus. This test involves a driver standing on one leg, raising the other leg straight out six inches off the ground, and counting to 30. Falling or losing one’s balance is a failure of the test.
This field sobriety test is particularly difficult for elderly or overweight individuals. Even young and physically able drivers may fail this test while completely sober. Anyone arrested for DUI based on a one-leg stand test should contact a New Britain attorney at our firm to discuss their legal options for defense.
The walk and turn test involves walking nine steps forward on a line, heel to toe, then turning around while keeping one foot planted and walking another nine steps back. A driver must not fall off the line and must keep their arms at their side.
A person is not walking on a line while driving a car, so this test has little to do with good driving. Like the one-stand test, those with physical or balance difficulties may fail the walk-and-turn test even while completely sober.
Discuss Field Sobriety Tests with a New Britain Lawyer
Despite the notorious inaccuracy of field sobriety tests, many police officers still use them when conducting DUI stops. There is also a specific protocol for each of these tests, which police may not always accurately follow.
You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests in New Britain, as well as the right to call legal counsel immediately after a DUI arrest. Exercise your rights by reaching out to Ruane Attorneys today. We are here to discuss your situation and provide the representation you need.