During DUI stops, police officers commonly perform breathalyzer tests to determine drivers’ blood alcohol concentration (BAC). They may also request various field sobriety tests to establish whether you are meaningfully “impaired” by alcohol or drugs. The results of these tests are often used as central pieces of evidence in ensuing criminal cases. Unfortunately, they are subjective and unreliable in how they are conducted and interpreted.
In many situations, it is possible to contest the results of field sobriety tests in New Haven DUI cases with guidance from an attorney. Discuss your rights with a DUI lawyer at Ruane Attorneys. We can explain the impact of these tests on your case and work to protect your best interests.
One Leg Stand
The first of three standardized field sobriety tests that police officers in New Haven typically perform during DUI stops is the “one leg stand.” This test involves the driver standing on one foot with the opposite leg lifted at least six inches off the ground for 30 seconds. If the test subject raises their arms more than six inches, hops on their leg, sways too much, or puts their foot down before 30 seconds have passed, the police may take this as evidence of impairment.
Walk and Turn
The second field sobriety test in many DUI cases is the walk and turn. This involves the test subject walking in a straight line by putting one foot directly in front of the other, heel to toe, for at least nine steps. They must then turn around 180 degrees and return to their original position in the same fashion. There are eight specific signs of impairment that police officers are looking for during this test:
- Starting the test before being instructed to do so
- Having trouble keeping balance while being given instructions
- Taking too few or too many steps
- Failing to walk heel to toe
- Stepping off the designated line
- Stopping in place
- Turning in a way other than as instructed
- Raising arms for balance
Anyone who displays two or more of these clues has failed the test, as per National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
The third field sobriety test is looking for “nystagmus,” which is the medical term for involuntary eye twitching caused by someone moving something from side to side in front of the test subject’s eyes. During DUI stops in New Haven, police officers will typically perform this test by moving a pen or small flashlight and instructing the test subject to follow it with their eyes without moving their head. Failing to follow the target smoothly or showing any signs of nystagmus in either eye may indicate impairment.
Discuss Field Sobriety Tests in DUI Cases With a New Haven Lawyer
Importantly, police officers are not required to perform field sobriety tests during every DUI stop, nor are drivers stopped on suspicion of DUI required by law to consent to these tests. However, refusing to take a field sobriety test may lead to a court assuming that you were driving drunk. A refusal also carries a few automatic administrative penalties with it.
Ruane Attorneys can review the conditions of field sobriety tests in New Haven DUI cases and contest the results of these notoriously unreliable procedures. Contact our firm today to discuss your case and get legal representation.