When it comes to detecting DWI, in Massachusetts there are standardized field sobriety tests police officers may rely on. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these guidelines are in place to reduce injuries, deaths and crashes caused by drivers under the influence.
One way police officers determine that a driver might be drunk is to use the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. Usually, an officer will ask a Massachusetts driver to follow an object, and while the driver does so, the officer watches to see if the driver’s eyes start jerking if the driver looks off to the side. This kind of test is considered more accurate than other field sobriety tests. However, this does not mean there are not valid defenses against this test.
If you're suspected of driving under the influence in Massachusets, you'll likely be subjected to a field sobriety test. These tests are designed to determine whether a person is under the influence of alcohol or other substances behind the wheel and are considered a reliable way to determine a person's sobriety. But are they truly accurate? Very Well Mind explains how field sobriety testing works, as well as define their level of accuracy.
The problem with field sobriety tests is that they can result in a “false positive,” which means that the test can conclude you have alcohol in your system when in fact you do not. While Massachusetts field sobriety tests are not complicated, it is a fact that a completely sober driver can still fail a sobriety test, which can lead to an unnecessary arrest and time in court.
When a majority of people hear about a fatal accident in Massachusetts involving an impaired driver, they often think immediately of someone who made the irresponsible, careless and selfish decision to drive after partying or having a wild night out. While these types of situations certainly do happen, other accidents may be caused by the uneducated mistakes of people who do not realize how dangerous certain drug reactions can be.
Drivers in Massachusetts know that driving after the consumption of alcohol is not a good idea. However, you may have had just a couple glasses of wine at dinner and you assume you are under the legal limit, or perhaps you had a lot to drink and made a bad judgment call. If you are pulled over for suspicion, you can expect to be asked if you have been drinking. If you say yes, or if the officer thinks you have been, you will be asked to perform three different field sobriety tests.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is against the law in Massachusetts. Performing a field sobriety test is voluntary if law enforcement officers request them when they pull you over. However, if you refuse to take one, the consequences may include spending the night in jail. At Attorney John B. Seed, we have experience representing clients who have failed these tests.
There are a number of issues to take into consideration when it comes to field sobriety tests. Our blog has addressed some of the different factors that can adversely affect the results of these tests, such as struggling with balance or abnormal functioning in the brain. Moreover, there are other challenges that can adversely affect the outcome of a field sobriety test, such as extreme stress. If you have been pulled over by a law enforcement official, it is very important for you to attempt to reduce your stress levels. However, this can be a very unnerving experience and many people feel overwhelmed, which may even cause them to fail a field sobriety test.
If you are ever stopped by a police officer while driving in Massachusetts and that officer suspects you may have been driving while under the influence of alcohol, you may be asked to take part in some tests. This request may well leave you feeling nervous and afraid as certainly you do not want to be arrested for drunk driving. While keeping calm may be difficult at this time, one thing you should know is that the field tests used by law enforcement are not fully accurate.
Sometimes when you are stopped by law enforcement officers in Massachusetts, you may be asked to perform field sobriety tests. While you may be familiar with tests that require standing on one leg and walking and turning, you may not have heard about the horizontal gaze nystagmus.