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.
Erratic driving, falling asleep behind the wheel or causing an accident may be clear indicators that a Boston resident is driving under the influence. Yet minus these incidents, how is a law enforcement official to know if you may be intoxicated? There are subtle clues that one might rely on (e.g., bloodshot eyes, alcohol beverage containers in your vehicle, the perceived smell of alcohol on your breath), yet none of these are sufficient to prove that you are legally drunk. Only sobriety testing can do that.
If a law enforcement official pulls you over and suspects that you are driving while drunk, they may decide to conduct a field sobriety test. In Massachusetts, you are able to refuse to submit to a test, although this may present consequences as well (for example, refusing a breath test could lead to the suspension of your driving privileges). There are different types of field sobriety tests that are conducted, such as standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, and a test which involves your horizontal gaze. Failing a field sobriety test can result in harsh penalties, even if you were not under the influence of alcohol.
If you fail a sobriety test, a number of negative consequences may lie ahead. For example, you may find yourself out of work or you could have a harder time trying to land a job in the future. Or, perhaps you will face stiff financial penalties or prison time. At the offices of Attorney John B. Seed, we know how devastating it can be for people who face these consequences as a result of failing field sobriety tests while sober.
A field sobriety test is often administered by a law enforcement officer when trying to assess if a person is intoxicated. According to the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, there are three main field sobriety tests used. These tests have been proven through scientific testing as an accurate way to gauge intoxication and include walk and turn, one-leg stand and horizontal gaze nystagmus.
A person who is charged with a DUI in Massachusetts may have difficulty contesting the matter in court if the chemical tests reveal that the blood alcohol content is above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Drugs may also affect driving skills, but as NBC Boston notes, proof of the impairment may not be as easy to come by for law enforcement officers attempting to make an arrest. In addition, many authorities are untrained in positively identifying whether a driver is high.