There are several types of evidence that the prosecutor may use in a DWI case to prove that a defendant was in fact driving while intoxicated. Besides the results of chemical tests (blood, breath, or urine tests), the prosecutor may use testimony from the arresting officer as well as the police report to prove that the defendant failed field sobriety tests (FSTs).
There are three standardized field sobriety tests:
- The walk-and-turn test;
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus test; and
- The one-leg-stand test.
Unfortunately, FSTs are highly subjective, and it is entirely possible for a sober person to fail them. This is why you can refuse to take FSTs (unlike the breathalyzer test) without immediate penalties. However, if you consent to take FSTs and you fail, that fact can be used against you in court.
If you were charged with DWI in New Jersey, contact my office to discuss your defense options. Even if you failed the FSTs and the breath test, there might still be a defense that works in your favor. In fact, the results of your FSTs and breath test may not even be admissible in court if the police made certain procedural errors.
The sooner you contact my office, the sooner I can start gathering evidence to fight your charges. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a consultation with a Newark criminal defense lawyer from the Law Office of Eric M. Mark.
How Do FSTs Work?
Field sobriety tests are designed to make you focus on two tasks simultaneously. This is why they’re often called “divided attention exercises.”
Here is a brief breakdown of how the three standardized field sobriety tests work:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The officer evaluates the nystagumus in your eyes, which is an involuntary jerk of your eyes as they move from side to side. People who are intoxicated tend to have an exaggerated nystagmus.
- The Walk-and-Turn Test: You will have to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line and then turn on one foot and walk back to the starting point in the same fashion. The officer will conclude that you are impaired if you fail to maintain your balance, follow instructions, touch your heel to toe, or walk in a straight line.
- The One-Leg Stand Test: You will have to raise your foot 6 inches above the ground and count aloud until the officer instructs you to lower your foot. The test usually lasts 30 seconds. The officer will look to see if you sway, drop your foot, lose balance, or use your arms to balance.
Just because you failed a field sobriety test doesn’t mean that you were intoxicated, and it certainly doesn’t mean that a conviction is inevitable. If you are facing DWI charges, contact my office to discuss defense strategies that may apply to your case. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a consultation with a DWI attorney in Newark.