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New York DUI/DWI Defense | What You Need To Know About Field Sobriety Tests in NY

Posted by Daniel DuBois | Oct 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

dui defense lawyer daniel dubois of dubois law explains the differences between standardized and non standardized field sobriety tests

Getting pulled over is stressful. Getting pulled over on suspicion of a DUI or DWI exponentially expands that because of the severity of the charges in New York State. If you get pulled over in NY for a DUI or DWI, your first call should be to an experienced DUI/DWAI attorney like Daniel Dubois here at DuBois Law. 

If you've been asked to submit to a field sobriety test, there are some things you should know about them. They're not infallible. This blog today aims to highlight some of the shortcomings of standardized field sobriety tests and show which tests are, and are not standardized.

Why are field sobriety tests used?

Field sobriety tests are used by law enforcement officers to aid in determining whether someone they just pulled over was driving while intoxicated. They're often criticized as subjective and unreliable, and some of the tests have shown that to be the case beyond a doubt. Others have shown some ability to test impairment but still have their own issues. Regardless, if you find yourself being questioned about a DWI, you need an experienced NY defense lawyer on your side. DuBois Law can guide you through this process, please reach out with any questions. 

What tests have shown to be most subjective and unreliable?

I'm sure you know some of them, they're among the most common to be depicted in pop culture. Saying the alphabet, counting backward, and touching your finger to your nose are Non-Standardized Field Sobiety Tests (NSFSTs) and thus inadmissible in New York. Neither the federal government nor the medical science field supports these particular tests. 

Standardized field sobriety tests used by law enforcement

Some sobriety tests are more reliable. They have limitations, so you should still call an experienced attorney to help defend your case, but they're more generally applicable and based on science. Currently, NHTSA only recognizes 3 Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). These tests include the Horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk & turn test, and the one-leg stand test. 

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test is a way to test the eyes. “Nystagmus” typically refers to bouncy, jerky, irregular eye movement that you don't really consciously control. It won't affect vision, which is what makes noticing if you have it difficult. 

The Walk and Turn test is an assessment of one's ability to follow directions, maintain balance and walk in a straight line. It's conducted with a heel-to-toe gait and arms at your sides. The officer is looking for imbalance, inability to follow directions and other signs. 

The One-Leg Stand test is fairly self-explanatory. Someone who's been pulled over on DUI suspicion will stand with one foot about 6 inches off the ground and count by 1000s until instructed to stop, typically about 30 seconds later. Officers are usually looking for signs of impairment like swaying, using arms for balance, hopping, and ending early. 

There are ways each of these has limitations and could be beaten in a court of law. There have been several instances of sober drivers getting pulled over on a DUI suspicion, being subject to these tests, and ultimately "failing" them. For example, balance issues can skew results. Additionally, if the tests are issued improperly, the results of these SFSTs can be thrown out. 

A New York Defense Attorney Can Help

Getting charged with anything is stressful. Here at DuBois Law, we understand, we never judge. If you've been stopped for a DUI/DWI or DWAI, your first call should be to an expert DUI defense attorney in New York.

Call DuBois Law today for a FREE consultation at (888)-684-8589 [(888) NT-GULTY] or fill out a contact form. Everyone is entitled to quality legal representation, which is why DuBois Law offers financing options to make our services more affordable. Follow along with our blog to keep up with posts similar to this one, or check out what some other clients have had to say about their experience with retaining Daniel DuBois' services. 

You need the best defense attorney New York has to offer, call DuBois Law today for your FREE consultation. 

Disclaimer: This blog post and the quickly outlined examples do not apply to everyone. Past results do not guarantee future success. Each case is unique according to its own facts. This post is not legal advice, for that you need to get in contact with an experienced lawyer. 

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