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Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests usually involve balance and coordination.  Many of us do not have good coordination under the best circumstances.  Yet, during a DWI / DUI investigation, the circumstances are so stressful and distracting that it is nearly impossible to perform field sobriety tests.  Unfortunately, these results are allowed to be brought into court by prosecutors as “evidence” of intoxication.

There are tests referred to as “standardized field sobriety tests” that have been studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  NHTSA believes these tests to be the best for determining whether to arrest someone for DWI.  NHTSA requires that specific standards be followed in order for the results of these tests to be reliable.

Only three field sobriety tests are known as standardized.  These are the one-leg stand, walk-and-turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus (an eye test referred to as HGN) field sobriety tests.  The New Jersey courts have ruled that the HGN test results cannot be used as evidence.  Furthermore, NHTSA claims that the one-leg stand test is 65% accurate when deciding to arrest someone for being over the legal limit.  That means that the police are wrong 35% of the time when using this test to arrest someone.  The walk-and-turn test is only 68% accurate.  Moreover, there are factors that further affect the validity of these tests.  Specific medical conditions and injuries render these tests unreliable.  If a person is 50 pounds overweight or is 65 years or older, then these tests are invalid.

Find out if the attorney you may be hiring knows the standards for administering field sobriety tests.   Attorney Kevin Leckerman has been certified by both NHTSA and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to administer these field sobriety tests.

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By Kevin Leckerman

Attorney Kevin Lekerman
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