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How do field sobriety tests work?

| Mar 8, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Intoxicated drivers could present a danger on the road. While under the influence, perceptions and reactions may become dull, contributing to the unsafe operation of a vehicle. When police officers in Maryland notice a driver erratically and recklessly operating a car, the driver will likely end up pulled over. Probable cause becomes necessary to arrest a driver for a DUI/DWI. Anyone failing a field sobriety test likely faces arrest since the failure could provide the required cause.

Field sobriety test options

The police might rely on more than one field sobriety test when dealing with a suspected drunk driver. The results of three specific tests could lead to determinations that result in an arrest. The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) involves moving a flashlight or pen side-to-side to examine eye movement. When intoxicated, eye movement may be more erratic.

A walk-and-turn test and a one-leg stand test could examine someone’s physical coordination. A person under the influence might have significant problems passing these tests, which is why they exist. However, failing the tests does not mean the same thing as experiencing a DUI conviction.

Defenses and problematic DUI arrests

DUI charges in Maryland may result in a misdemeanor conviction and a criminal record. Fines and jail time become possible even with a first offense. Anyone charged with a drunk or drug-related driving arrest has rights and may mount a successful defense.

The possibility does exist that a sober person could fail a field sobriety test. An illness or another underlying issue may have trouble with one or more of the tests. If someone was not drunk, then the drunk driving charges might appear dubious.

A defense attorney could raise questions about the validity of blood tests and other evidence. An attorney may seek to have charges dismissed, depending on the circumstances of the case. Did the police have sufficient reason to pull the vehicle over? If not, then the subsequent evidence procured might become inadmissible.

A DUI and a DWI fall under a violation of Maryland criminal law. Anyone facing such charges might need to speak with a defense attorney.