Our last blog discussed what to expect at a DWI checkpoint and why these stops increase during holidays. An officer may ask you to perform a field sobriety test at a DWI checkpoint. This request is very common, especially during holidays. DWI checkpoints typically have a separate area where field sobriety tests are performed.
Three field sobriety tests are sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: This test requires you to focus your gaze on the officer’s finger as he moves it back and forward in a horizontal motion.
- Walk-and-turn test: With this test, you walk heel-to-toe for nine steps and then turn to proceed in the other direction.
- One-leg stand test: This test requires you to count while raising one foot six inches off the ground.
You are not required to take any of these tests.
Why Are Field Sobriety Tests Flawed?
You can fail a field sobriety test even if you sober. For example, it would be much more difficult to perform the walk-and-turn test while wearing cowboy boots or sandals. Certain types of prescription medications can cause you to fail the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. You could fail the one-leg stand test if you have bad knees. Many police officers also do not administer or grade these tests correctly.
Perhaps the biggest flaw is that field sobriety tests are recorded by police dashboard cameras. Whatever you say or do is caught on camera. If you are placed under arrest, the prosecution can use this footage to try and convict you of a DWI.
What Happens if I Am Arrested for a DWI in New Jersey?
The penalties of a DWI in New Jersey are severe. If you are arrested for failing or refusing a field sobriety test, then you should call a DWI defense attorney as soon as possible. The state must prove that you are guilty beyond any reasonable doubt to convict you of a DWI. Police can make mistakes while administering field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. Other conditions could have caused you to fail these tests. Therefore, a DWI defense attorney may be able to argue for a dismissal or reduction in charges.
If you were arrested for a DWI, then please call Gelman Law, LLC for a consultation explaining your rights and legal options. David Gelman is a dedicated Cherry Hill DWI defense attorney with prior experience working in the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. His prior work experience gives him insight into how the prosecution may try to convict you of a DWI.