Maine Field Sobriety Tests
DUI Attorneys Serving Biddeford, Portland, Saco, Bngor, and Augusta
If have been arrested for OUI in Maine, than you are probably already aware of what a sobriety test is. For those who are new to the area of DUI law, sobriety tests are the way police officers evaluate whether they believe you are under the influence of alcohol or not. There are 2 types of sobriety tests, field sobriety tests and chemical tests. Chemical tests measure the alcohol in your system (BAC) and involve taking a blood, breath or urine sample. These tests tend to be the more accurate of the two types, but take longer to produce results. The other more subjective type of test is field sobriety tests. It is easy to make a mistake performing field sobriety tests for many reasons yet they are used very often in DUI arrests.
Field sobriety tests are one means that officers have to examine if a driver appears to be under the influence before making a DUI arrest. There are various tests that an officer can choose to use or they may decide to combine more than one. These tests are used to assess a number of aspects of the individual being questioned for DWI, and the officer will typically be looking at more than just the immediate answers
Field Sobriety Tests in Maine
Standardized Field Sobriety Test
The National Highway Traffic Safety developed three types of SFSTs that may be administered to assess the level of intoxication or impairment of a suspect prior to an OUI arrest.
The Walk-and-Turn is one common type of field sobriety test in which the person in question will be asked to walk a straight line with one foot in front of the other. After nine steps they will turn around and return, following the same heel to toe procedure. Officers will be looking at the balance of a person, as well as their ability to follow all directions. It is very easy to fail this test. If you put your arms out to the side to steady yourself, you fail. If you do not place your heel completely against your toe, you will fail.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, or HGN testing is used to evaluate abnormal eye jerking that can be affected after a certain level of intoxication. The person in question will be asked to follow an object, commonly a pen or light with their eyes. The officer will look for the smoothness in movement, jerking of the eye when it is at maximum deviation and if jerking of the eye occurs within 45 degrees of the center.
The One-Leg-Stand will require the suspect to balance on one foot for 30 seconds without placing their foot down, using their arms for help, lowering their foot to close to the ground or hopping back and forth to their other foot. This is difficult for many people to do sober in a relaxing environment, let alone while being watched by a police officer at the side of a busy road.
It is important to keep in mind that as you perform these tests, you will likely be recorded by the video camera in the dashboard of the police car. This video will be kept and used as evidence against you in your trial. When you hire a DUI defense attorney, one of the first things they will do is get a copy of that video so you can see for yourself if you looked impaired.
In order to give these tests an officer must be certified after completing training. It can be easy for the individual giving the tests to make a mistake or misread the evidence. While field sobriety tests can be useful in determining who is driving under the influence, they are not without fault and a driver with a BAC level below the legal limit may be wrongly arrested. A field sobriety test must be consented to in order for an officer to administer it. It may or may not work in favor of a suspect and even if the findings of it are negative, it does not mean they are correct.
Field Sobriety Test DUI Defenses
Field sobriety tests require police officers to interpret your movements and judge whether you are impaired or not. There are a lot of reasons that a person could make a mistake; poor balance, bad vision, and clumsiness are alternative reasons for a person to fail a field sobriety test. When drivers are pulled over, they tend to be very nervous. Nervousness can affect the way people react and move and this can be interpreted as impairment.
Why You Should Contact a Maine DUI Defense Lawyer
Our lead attorney, William T. Bly, is not only a qualified legal professional; he is certified to administer Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, giving him a thorough understanding of this process, as well as a greater ability to dispute its findings.
We have the experience and the knowledge to defend you. Call us now.