Field Sobriety Testing in DUI Cases NJ
DWI Defense Lawyers in Hackettstown, New Jersey
Any driver who is pulled over and suspected of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence in Sussex or Warren County will be asked to conduct field sobriety tests before actually being arrested. In fact, local police officers and State Troopers in Warren and Sussex County will use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s three standardized field sobriety tests: horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and one-leg-stand. While the driver performs the tests, the officer will determine whether or not any “clues” are present to assess any level of intoxication and, based on the number of clues present, the officer will determine whether or not there is probable cause to arrest the driver. The DWI defense team at the Tormey Law Firm is fully familiar with field sobriety testing and if you were arrested for driving while intoxicated as the result of field sobriety tests, we are available to discuss your case and defense strategy. We represent clients throughout NJ including in Andover, Byram, Phillipsburg, and Hopatcong. Contact our offices now for a free initial consultation at 973-755-1695.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (“HGN”)
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is designed to evaluate whether or not a person’s pupils can smoothly track a stimulus, often a finger-tip or a pen, or if the person’s eyes are twitchy and jerky. The officer will instruct the driver to put their feet together, with hands at the side and keep looking at the stimulus until the test is over, all while not moving their head. The pertinent clues during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test can be lack of smooth pursuit in the left eye, lack of smooth pursuit in the right eye, distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation in the left eye, distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation in the right eye, onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees in the left eye, onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees in the right eye or vertical gaze nystagmus.
The Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test is designed to evaluate a person’s coordination. The driver will be instructed to put their left foot in-line, then to place their right foot ahead of the left, with the heel of the right foot against the toe of the left foot. Then, the driver will be asked to take 9 heel-to-toe steps in a line and take 9 heel-to-toe steps back, turning on the ninth step by keeping their front foot on the line and taking several small steps with the other foot. The driver will also be instructed to look at their feet, count each step out loud, keep their arms at their side and touch their feet heel-to-toe. The relevant clues during the walk and turn test include: cannot keep balance during instructions, starts too soon, stops walking, misses heel-to-toe, steps off line, uses arms for balance, improper turn, and incorrect number of steps.
The One-Leg-Stand Test
The one-leg-stand tests the driver’s balance. The instructions for the one-leg-stand are to stand with your feet together and your arms at your side, maintain the position until told otherwise, and then raise one leg approximately 6 inches off the ground and count out loud in the following manner: 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004 and so on until told to stop. The key clues during the one-leg-stand test are: sways while balancing, uses arms to balance, hopping, and puts foot down.
Fight a DWI Charge in Hackettstown with the Tormey Law Firm LLC
Each of the standardized field sobriety tests provides an opportunity for the officer to observe the driver’s voluntary and involuntary muscle coordination that is indicative of whether or not a driver is intoxicated. Taken in conjunction with other factors such as the odor of alcohol, slurred speech, blood shot eyes, and fumbling while trying to provide the officer with the driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, field sobriety tests are one of the many factors a prosecutor may rely on to prove that a person was driving a vehicle while under the influence. If you are facing DWI or DUI charges in Warren or Sussex County, contact the DWI/DUI defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm to learn about what can be done to fight the charges. Our DWI defense team is available now at 973-755-1695.