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How the Police in Massachusetts Uses Field Sobriety Tests

October 21st, 2014 | By | Posted in Uncategorized

While each state has different laws about drunk driving, the field sobriety tests used by the police are the same everywhere. Many studies have argued that field sobriety tests aren’t valid. Nevertheless, police officers will probably continue to use them for a while. Let’s take a look at the different field sobriety tests currently being used.

1. Nine-Step Walk and Turn

This sobriety test requires you to walk nine steps and turn. Instead of taking a normal step, you’re expected to put one foot directly in front of the other. The police officer will then score you on the following:

  • Ability to maintain heal to toe
  • Ability to walk in a straight line
  • Ability to walk the correct number of steps
  • Ability to maintain your balance without using your arms
  • Ability to start when told

2. One-Leg Stand

During field sobriety testing, you may be asked to stand on one foot for 30 seconds. This is actually more difficult than it sounds. In fact, many people argue that being able to do this is not necessarily a sign of being sober but rather a sign of being fit.

Nevertheless, the police officer is looking for your ability to stand on one leg without hopping, without flapping your arms, and without putting your foot down for 30 seconds. Obviously, this is difficult to do for older people, overweight people, and people who are suffering from various aches and pains.

3. Horizontal Gaze and Nystagmus Test

This test is also referred to as the pen test. But what is it all about anyway? Nystagmus is an involuntary or abnormal movement of the eye. Being intoxicated is only one of the causes of nystagmus. Other causes include inner ear problems, sickness, fatigue, and nicotine or caffeine intake.

During this test, the police officer may ask you to follow an object (that’s where the pen comes into play) with your eyes. He or she will observe your ability to follow the object without jerking the eyes from side to side or up and down.

What You Need to Know

The good news is that you can decline the field sobriety tests, but you will have to consent to give a breath or blood sample at the police station later. When it comes to sobriety field tests, they’re not always admissible in court (especially the pen test). But even if they are, our experienced attorneys can help a jury understand how difficult it is to succeed at these tests even when you’re sober.

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