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A police officer in uniform watches over a scene in New Jersey where other officers handle a high BAC DWI incident by the road, with police vehicles parked in the background.

What Should I Know About Field Sobriety Tests in New Jersey?

Drivers who are suspected of being intoxicated behind the wheel may be asked to perform different physical tests on the side of the road once they are pulled over. These are known as field sobriety tests. The purpose of these tests is to determine if a driver is intoxicated. The results can be used to charge a driver and convict them in court. It is because of this that it is important to be aware of your rights when dealing with these situations. Contact an experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney today if you have been charged with a DWI.  

Examples of Field Sobriety Tests

There are different tests that can be administered by law enforcement to determine intoxication. Three tests that are standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: When the driver is asked to use only their eyes to track the officer’s pen, finger, or flashlight without moving their head. The officer is looking to see if there is unsteady movement in the eye, known as Nystagmus. 
  • Walk and Turn Test: When the driver must walk heel to toe with their right foot in front of their left, arms at their sides, and turn around properly.
  • One Leg Stand Test: When the driver has to stand on one foot and count to 30 without losing their balance at all or perception of time. 

Other tests that may be administered but are not standardized can include the Rhomberg balance test, the finger-to-nose test, reciting the alphabet, the hand-pat test, and the finger-tap test.

Can I Refuse Sobriety Tests?

It is important to know that field sobriety tests are voluntary. Drivers can refuse to participate in them without it being held against them. However, this will most likely result in an arrest. While this is true, if you are trying to hide intoxication by avoiding the tests, you would likely be arrested regardless. Refusal ensures there is no evidence of intoxication against the driver.

How Are the Tests Standardized?

The official name of these tests is Standard Field Sobriety Tests. This means that there is an official way for them to be administered by law enforcement in order for them to be valid. If any step is incorrectly administered, the results cannot be used as evidence in court.

Contact our Firm

Kevin T. Conway is an experienced Bergen County criminal attorney handling DUI, DWI, traffic violations, violent crimes, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, shoplifting, and juvenile crimes. Attorney Conway is also experienced in commercial law matters, zoning law, and estate planning. If you need an aggressive criminal lawyer, contact The Law Office of Kevin T. Conway for a free consultation.

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