Field Sobriety Test Laws in NH
When a New Hampshire police officer suspects a driver of DUI or DWI, they may ask that driver to step out of the car and perform a field sobriety test. The request to step out of the car alone may fill a driver with anxiety, fear, and stress. Regardless of whether a driver has been drinking or not, a field sobriety test puts you at the mercy of the individual officer at the scene.
What a Field Sobriety Test Should Entail
A field sobriety test can vary greatly depending on the officer and the circumstances. However, there are a few key components that make this test a popular indicator of physical and cognitive ability comparable with the effects of alcohol. One component widely used is being forced to stand on one leg for a set period of time. Walking a certain number of steps, smoothly turning and walking back is another typical request during a field sobriety test. Counting and reciting the alphabet, sometimes backwards, is also a common request as part of a field sobriety test. The officer also shines a light in the eyes of the driver and asks them to follow the light, under the fact that alcohol will cause the eyes to jump and jerk rather than smoothly follow. Standing with arms stretched out to the side, with eyes closed, then taking one hand to touch your nose is also another popular request from officers during field sobriety tests.
Problems With Field Sobriety Tests
The problem with field sobriety tests lies both with the officer who administers one and the individual driver being asked to comply. On the end of the officer, it is a highly subjective test. Simply put, the result, or a pass/fail determination, literally depends on the interpretation of the officer at the scene. What one officer may consider a “failed” field sobriety test, another officer may see as a “pass”. Also, the actual test taker can affect the results. If the driver has a medical condition, perhaps even neurological in nature, they may not be able to pass the horizontal gaze and follow test. A driver who is elderly, ill, overweight, or has any kind of balance issues, such as vertigo, may find it virtually impossible to stand on one leg or walk perfectly straight. Nervousness and the idea of being alongside a busy road may also factor into how someone performs during a field sobriety test.
Representation Can Help You Fight Results
Simply put, in New Hampshire, a field sobriety test can be fought in a court of law. A guilty conviction of DUI or DWI in New Hampshire can mean heavy fines, loss of license, community service, alcohol education classes, and even jail time. A conviction can also have devastating effects on a person’s family life and reputation. With so many flaws and extenuating circumstances, no one should ever face charges based on a field sobriety test without skilled representation and a full understanding of what is at risk. Paul Garrity has won hard to fight felony cases and can also use his inside knowledge of the subjectivity and unfairness of the field sobriety test procedure to help clients avoid prosecution. With plea bargain experience, he has successfully helped clients reduce fines and expunge records, safeguarding the reputations of good citizens who found themselves in an unfortunate situation. Skilled representation can make a world of difference when facing a judge for DUI and DWI, especially when it comes to how much weight a subjective and inaccurate field sobriety test may have on your future.
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