Russell Defense Firm Is Known for Providing Trusted OUI Defense
Field sobriety tests are one of the first tools that an officer has to determine whether a person is too intoxicated to drive. It is for the jury to decide if field sobriety exercises demonstrate a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely was diminished and whether to rely on this evidence. The jury may accept it or reject it and the jury may give it such weight as the jury thinks it deserves. In making its assessment, the jury may consider the nature of the tests, the circumstances under which they were given and performed, and all of the evidence in the case.
If you were arrested based on a field sobriety test result — or if you feel that your rights were violated in any manner during the initial test, arrest or booking — you need to contact a Brighton criminal defense attorney from Russell Defense Firm right away.
What evidence is needed for an OUI conviction?
Someone does not have to be drunk to be under the influence of alcohol. A person is under the influence of alcohol if he or she has consumed enough alcohol to reduce his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, by decreasing his or her alertness, judgment, and ability to respond promptly. It means that a person has consumed enough alcohol to reduce his or her mental clarity, self-control and reflexes, and thereby left him or her with a reduced ability to drive safely.
What are the different types of field tests?
During a field sobriety test, there are a few different physical acts that an officer will ask you to perform in order to determine whether you should be given a breath or blood test or be placed under arrest. The specific acts can vary slightly, but the basic tests are most commonly:
Walking a Straight Line
The officer shall state as follows:
- "Place your left foot on the line. (Demonstrate)(real or imaginary)."
- "Place your right foot on the line ahead of the left foot, with heel of right foot against toe of left foot." (Demonstrate)
- "Place your arms down at your sides." (Demonstrate).
- "Maintain this position until I have completed the instructions. Do not start to walk until told to do so."
- "Do you understand my instructions so far? (Make sure the suspect indicates understanding.)
- 'When I tell you to start, take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back. (Demonstrate 3 heel-to-toe steps)."
- "When you turn, keep the front foot on the line and turn by taking a series of small steps with the other foot like this (Demonstrate)."
- "While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud."
- "Once you start walking, don't stop until you have completed the test."
- "Do you understand the instructions?" (Make sure the suspect understands).
- "Begin, and count your first step from the heel-to-toe position as 'One".
According to studies done on this test, even when instructions are given perfectly at a well lit, dry, level surface, officers were only able to correctly distinguish impaired drivers from non impaired drivers 68% of the time.
Walking with your heel placed at the tip of your toe, one foot after the other, is another simple test conducted in the field. An accused individual will typically be instructed to take approximately nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and come back to the officer in the same way.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
This test is the measurement of the involuntary jerking of the eyes as they move from side to side. An officer may ask an individual to follow a pen with their eyes without moving their head. The police officer will look for jerking movements of the eyes as they attempt to keep up with movement of the pen. Under Commonwealth v. Sands, the horizontal gaze nystagus, also known as eye exercise, is not admissible in criminal court unless a person is admitted as an expert witness.
Get Defense for Sobriety Tests Failures and Contact Russell Defense Firm
While these tests are commonly used, they are not always accurate. The accused individual may be exposed to many different elements that can affect the outcome of the test. Weather, uneven pavement, medical conditions, nervousness and even sheer clumsiness can all negatively affect your field sobriety test results.
If you were arrested or accused of being intoxicated because of a field sobriety test result, it is important that you contact Russell Defense Firm as soon as possible. Brighton OUI lawyer, Adam Russell, proudly provides free case evaluations to all potential clients, so do not hesitate to contact the firm today and schedule yours!