Field Sobriety Tests In NJ
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Evidence in NJ DUI cases generally falls into five categories:
- Driving Behavior – The first of these consists of driving behavior. Unless an accident is involved, this is usually what first attracts the police officer’s attention and, typically, may involve weaving, lane straddling or erratic driving. There are, in fact, 20 different driving patterns recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which could be possible indicators of intoxication.
- Personal Behavior – The second type of evidence involves personal behavior and appearance. These may include an odor of alcohol on the breath, bloodshot eyes, thick and/or slurred speech, flushed face, fumbling with a wallet to get the driver’s license, unsteady gait, leaning on the car for support, difficulty following directions, etc. Some of these — odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech — are encountered so often that some officers, trained to expect them, will include them in their arrest reports even if they are not actually present.
- Field Sobriety Tests – The third type of DUI evidence consists of the field sobriety tests. These may include walk-and-turn, touch-the-nose, one-leg-stand, modified position of attention (also called the Rhomberg test), alphabet recitation, horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) — a field sobriety test where you are required to follow an object like a pen or finger from side-to-side with your eyes. Federal studies have shown that only three of these (walk-and-turn, one-leg-stand, and nystagmus) are effective in detecting intoxication; the others are unreliable and have been disapproved. As a result, a “standardized” battery of these three field sobriety tests has been recommended and is increasingly being adopted by police agencies across the country.
- Incriminating Statements – The fourth category of evidence consists of incriminating statements, whether made spontaneously or in response to questioning. You are not, of course, required to answer any questions at any time. Since the Miranda warning need not be given until after the arrest, the officer is free to ask incriminating questions during his initial investigation. A refusal to submit to chemical testing may be interpreted as an incriminating statement.
- Chemical Tests – The final type of DWI/DUI evidence is the chemical test. In New Jersey, you cannot refuse to take the breathalyzer. If you do, you will be charged with two offenses: DWI and Refusing to take the breathalyzer. Police departments can gather blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration in a variety of ways; however, most often the suspect will be required to provide a sample of his/her breath. The machines commonly utilized to analyze the suspect’s breath sample are the Breathalyzer 900 and 900A and the Alcotest 7110.
Remember, DUI is a serious offense and you should be represented by an experienced and qualified New Jersey DUI defense lawyer with knowledge of police training and a keen understanding of the science behind chemical testing.
Contact our New Jersey field sobriety test lawyers today
The attorneys at Aiello, Harris, Abate have this kind of knowledge and experience and are here ready to speak with you regarding your case. Call us today at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online. Your initial consultation is free.