When you are stopped for suspicion of drunk driving, you may be asked at some point to submit to a field sobriety test. You may be uncertain whether you have the right to refuse to take a field sobriety test or if there are consequences to a refusal. This blog post addresses these issues.
Field Sobriety Tests
When you have been pulled over, the police officer may initially ask you questions to determine whether you have been drinking. You do not need to answer these questions without having a lawyer present. Regardless of how you answer the questions, the officer may then request that you step outside of the car and take a field sobriety test. The purpose of such a test is to identify visible signs of intoxication.
In New Jersey, field sobriety tests are generally required before a law enforcement officer can issue a summons for DWI or DUI. They form the basis for probable cause to make an arrest, particularly if the officer does not have portable breath test equipment in the car. Field sobriety tests can also be introduced into evidence where blood alcohol cannot be proven by blood or breath tests.
Field sobriety tests can take many forms, including:
• The horizontal gaze test—In this test, the police attempt to follow your eyes to determine how effectively they track an object, such as a finger.
• The finger to nose test—In this test, you will be asked to close your eyes and touch your finger to your nose.
• Balance tests—Police may ask you to balance on one leg or to walk heal-to-toe. These tests are designed to establish a lack of balance resulting from intoxication.
• Word or number tests—You may be asked to recite your ABCs, count to a certain number (forward and/or backward), or recite a well known speech, such as the pledge of allegiance.
In New Jersey, you may refuse to submit to a field sobriety test. However, because the police officer must use the results of this test as the basis for arrest, in the event of your refusal, the officer will arrest you as if you had tested positive.
Field sobriety tests are often improperly conducted, and can often produce misleading or false results. An experienced lawyer can frequently demonstrate the lack of credibility to the tests.
Contact the Attorneys at the Law Office of Mallon & Tranger
We offer a free initial consultation to car accident injury victims. To schedule an appointment, contact our office online or call us at (732) 410-6094. We offer three convenient locations, in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.