A Criminal Defense Lawyer Baltimore MD Clients Trust Disputes DUI Field Tests
A criminal lawyer is aware that a significant number of drivers lawfully refuse to provide a breath or blood sample during a DUI arrest, meaning that the field sobriety tests may be the state’s best evidence of intoxication in a great number of cases.
There are quite a few informal tests. Some drivers are asked to recite a portion of the alphabet, touch their noses with their fingertips, answer obscure trivia questions, and the list goes on. However, there are only three field tests approved by the National Transportation Safety Administration and a diligent criminal lawyer can poke holes in every one of them.
At Greenberg Law Offices, we have years of legal experience fighting for our clients in defending against drunk driving charges and know the issues that field sobriety test results can pose for a Maryland prosecutor.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
In this procedure, the testers ask the participants to follow a specific point with their eyes, typically a small flashlight beam, a fingertip, or pen, without moving their heads. During the test, the officer is looking for “clues,” or involuntary eye movements. If the participant exhibits at least four clues, there is a likelihood that the person’s BAC level is at least .08.
A major problem with this test is that it is only about 88 percent effective in controlled conditions and DUI arrests are not made in controlled conditions. Even in perfect weather conditions and during the day, the patrol car’s flashing lights, the passing traffic, and the suspect’s nervousness disrupt the testing process.
Walk and Turn
This “divided attention” test measures the suspects’ cognitive ability because they must follow instructions and count the number of steps as they walk heel to toe.
Officers are instructed to allow women to remove high-heeled shoes and find a level, smooth, and well-lit place to conduct the test. Sometimes the officers follow these procedures, and sometimes they do not.
Many people are asked to walk an imaginary line, as opposed to a parking lot stripe or other visible line. It is much more difficult to walk an imaginary line while maintaining one’s concentration.
Officers are looking for eight signs of impairment:
- Inability to maintain balance while receiving instructions;
- Beginning to walk before the instructions are finished;
- Stopping during the test to regain balance;
- Failing to touch heel to toe;
- Straying off the line;
- Using the arms to maintain balance;
- Making a sloppy turn; and
- Taking the wrong number of steps.
Research indicates that 79 percent of people with two or more indicators are legally intoxicated. That percentage is hardly an overwhelming number.
One Leg Stand
This test measures physical ability, as the suspects are asked to stand with one leg elevated for 30 seconds. The officers are looking for four indicators:
- Swaying while standing;
- Using arms for balance;
- Hopping to maintain balance; and
- Prematurely placing the elevated foot down.
Once again, the officers are looking for two or more indicators to indicate suspicion of DUI. This test suffers from many of the same shortcomings as the walk and turn.
Contact a Maryland Criminal Lawyer for Help
A criminal defense lawyer Baltimore MD residents recommend can use faults in the testing procedure to attack the results of the field tests and create reasonable doubt. Call for a free consultation on this matter, contact an experienced Maryland criminal lawyer from Greenberg Law Offices today.