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Field Sobriety Tests

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New Jersey Field Sobriety Test Lawyers

Experienced Field Sobriety Lawyers Represent Clients Charged With DWI/DUI In Mercer County, Middlesex County, and Monmouth County, New Jersey

In New Jersey, when a police officer suspects someone of driving while intoxicated (DWI), they conduct a field sobriety test before arresting the offender. The tests include various practices such as making the suspect stand on one leg and walking nine heel-to-toe steps back and forth to assess someone’s sobriety.

Being pulled over and asked to submit to a field sobriety test can be very frightening. But do not panic. Contact the knowledgeable New Jersey field sobriety lawyers at Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC. Our skilled legal team has extensive experience handling field sobriety tests, breath test refusal, driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI), multiple DWI offenses, and more. Arrange a prompt confidential consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys and let us help you navigate the best path forward.

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests In New Jersey

Field sobriety tests — also called roadside sobriety tests — are used by law enforcement to enforce the state’s laws regarding driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. After a traffic stop, when an individual is suspected of driving while impaired, a law enforcement officer may perform a three-part field sobriety test. 

Field sobriety tests allow a police officer to observe a suspect’s physical ability, balance, attention level, or other factors that may be used by the officer to determine whether the suspect is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The suspect’s performance on the field sobriety test will be recorded and used as evidence in DUI cases. Field sobriety tests have a distinct purpose: to ensure that the law enforcement officer has probable cause to arrest someone for driving under the influence.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) endorses the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), which consists of three parts: 

One-Leg Stand: Suspects are asked to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground for a count of 30 seconds. Impairment may be evidenced by hopping, putting the foot down on the ground, swaying while balancing, or using arms to balance.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This term refers to the involuntary jerking of the eye that naturally occurs when the eye gazes to the side. When an individual is impaired by alcohol, this jerking (or nystagmus) is exaggerated. Law enforcement officers use three indicators to determine impairment: the suspect’s inability to follow a moving object smoothly, eye-jerking within 45 degrees of center, and distinct eye jerking when the eye is at maximum deviation.

Walk and Turn: This tests the suspect’s ability to complete tasks with divided attention. The walk and turn test requires that the suspect complete the following three tasks: 1) take nine steps, with your heel to toe, in a straight line 2) turn on one foot, and 3) return in the same manner in the opposite direction.

In most cases, suspects who do poorly on the field sobriety tests are asked to submit to a breath test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after they are arrested.

Penalties For Refusing A Breathalyzer Test In New Jersey

In New Jersey, the penalties for refusing a breath test are based on whether it is your first, second, or third offense. Specifically, the penalties for breath test refusal are as follows:

Refusing To Submit to Testing – First Offense DUI Penalties

  • Monetary fine of $300 – $500 and suspension of drivers’ license suspension until an ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle
  • Participation in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center is required for a minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days 
  • Ignition interlock device must be installed in the vehicle for a period of 9 to 15 months after the drivers’ license is restored 
  • Payment of an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for a period of three years

Refusing To Submit to Testing – Second Offense DUI Penalties

  • Monetary fine of $500 – $1,000 
  • Drivers’ license suspension for one to two years following the installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle
  • Mandatory payment of an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for a period of three years
  • Detainment in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for 48 consecutive hours
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle for a period of two to four years after the drivers’ license is restored 

Refusing To Submit to Testing – Third Offense DUI Penalties

  • Monetary fine of  $1,000 fine 
  • Drivers’ license suspension for eight years following installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle
  • Mandatory payment of an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,500 a year for a period of three years
  • Ignition interlock device must be installed in the vehicle for a period of two to four years after the drivers’ license is restored 

Refusing To Submit to Testing First, Second, and Third offenses

  • Referral to an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • Mandatory surcharge of $100 surcharge to be deposited in the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Have In-Depth Knowledge Of Field Sobriety Tests In New Jersey

The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC have in-depth knowledge of field sobriety tests in New Jersey. In addition to almost two decades of experience, our DUI/DWI attorneys have been certified in standardized field sobriety testing in New Jersey. This specialized training provides our legal team with additional knowledge pertaining to field sobriety tests, giving us an edge regarding what specific criteria to look for in your field sobriety test to successfully challenge the charge brought against you.

Let us help you fight the results of your field sobriety test. Schedule a free confidential consultation with one of our DUI/DWI attorneys today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Field Sobriety Tests in New Jersey

FAQ: Do implied consent laws apply to field sobriety tests in New Jersey?

No. You are under no legal obligation to consent to a field sobriety test in New Jersey.

FAQ: Are there other, non-standardized field sobriety tests?

Yes. Other, non-standardized field sobriety tests may include one or more of the following: standing with feet together and tipping the head backward; counting the number of fingers an officer raises; reciting the alphabet; counting backward; standing and leaning back to look up at the sky while holding arms to the side, or closing the eyes and touching nose with a finger.

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