Helping You Identify And Address Errors In A Field Sobriety Test
Police officers in North Carolina commonly conduct field sobriety tests before arresting a driver for DWI. The tests are supposed to indicate whether the driver is impaired as a result of alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, though, the tests are not always accurate. Other conditions — such as a medical issue or physical impairment — can also affect the outcome.
Police officers cannot require drivers to engage in field sobriety tests on a whim. Rather, they must have a proper legal basis to justify traffic stops, and they must have adequate legal grounds to conduct field sobriety tests. If these grounds did not exist in your case, you may be able to suppress (keep out of court) the results of the field sobriety test.
Standard Field Sobriety Tests
In North Carolina, the standard field sobriety tests include:
- Walk-and-turn test: By requiring you to walk in a straight line, one foot in front of the other, the police officer can judge your balance. Other factors such as physical impairments or even uncomfortable shoes can throw off your balance. The police officer may also ask you to take a certain number of steps, testing your ability to remember that number and accurately keep track of your steps.
- One-leg stand test: As in the walk-and-turn test, the police officer may assess your balance by requiring you to stand on one leg for 30 seconds. The officer will also judge your mental state by whether you are able to count to 30.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test (eye test): This test involves requiring you to follow a light, pen or other object with your eyes. The police officer will observe whether your gaze is jerky, which can indicate impairment. However, other medical conditions or prescription medications can also cause a similar result.
To be effective, these tests must be administered properly. Sloppiness can potentially be grounds for having the test results suppressed.
There Is No Standard Test For Prescription Drugs
Even though driving under the influence of prescription drugs can result in criminal charges in North Carolina, there is no standard test to determine if an individual is impaired. Impairment is assessed by the responding officer, and if bias exists, criminal charges could follow.
Developing A Strategy For Your Case
Field sobriety tests are not ironclad evidence. They can often be suppressed or challenged depending on the unique circumstances of your case.
At The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett, we can analyze the elements of your case to determine the best strategy for challenging the charges and mitigating the consequences. With more than 34 years of experience in criminal law, we understand how to develop strong cases for our clients.
A Proven Track Record Of Success. See how many North Carolina residents we’ve helped over the years and see why The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett is a trusted name in criminal defense. See our results.
Contact Our Charlotte Office Today
If the field sobriety test results you received were inaccurate, you shouldn’t have to suffer the damaging consequences of a DWI conviction. Get help from our attorney and make sure you’re getting your getting justice.