If you are pulled over on the suspicion of being intoxicated, a police officer will likely request that you take a field sobriety test. This test is used to assess if there is cause to detain someone for driving under the influence. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman have extensive experience representing clients in DUI and DWI cases, and have provided the following information regarding your rights during a field sobriety test.
What is a field sobriety test?
National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has sanctioned three specific tests for officers to use when assessing intoxication.
- The One Leg Stand: An officer will ask a driver to stand on one leg, watching to see if they put their foot down before 30 seconds has elapsed; or if they hop, sway, and raise their arms more than 6 inches.
- Walk and Turn: An officer will ask an individual to walk on a line to a certain designated point, and turn around. During this test, they are watching whether the person begins before the instructions were complete, was unable to stand with one foot in front of the other while being instructed, failed to touch heel to toe on every step, failed to stay on the line, stopped walking, raised arms more than 6 inches, took the wrong number of steps, or turned improperly.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): During an HGN test, an officer will ask an individual to follow a pen, or similar object with their eyes only. During this time, the officer will attempt to estimate the angle at which the eye begins to jerk. If this occurs before the eye is angled at 45 degrees, it theoretically indicates a blood-alcohol concentration over .05%. The officer will also assess how smoothly an individual tracks the object with their eyes. In Maryland, the legal effect of this test is evidence the defendant consumed alcohol.
Am I required to take a field sobriety test?
These tests are generally optional in most states, but officers will typically arrest an individual who refuses to submit to one. In many occasions, an officer may have already decided whether or not to arrest the driver regardless of whether they submit to a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests may not accurately assess whether you are intoxicated, and therefore can be argued against in DUI court.
Can I have an attorney present when I take a field sobriety test?
When pulled over under the suspicion of being intoxicated, you do not have the right to speak with an attorney unless you are placed under arrest. This means that you may not be permitted to speak with an attorney prior to taking a field sobriety test.
Don’t drink and drive. If you do, and you are pulled over, it is important that you know your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman for more information on DUI/DWI law, or to schedule a consultation of your case.