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New Jersey Portable Breath Test Lawyers

Portable Breath Test Lawyers Protect The Rights Of Those Suspected Of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) In Mercer County, Middlesex County, and Monmouth County, NJ

The portable breath test lawyers at Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC share more than 18 years of experience and our legal team is certified in standardized field sobriety testing in New Jersey. Our criminal defense attorneys protect the rights of those suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey.

Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain The Difference Between Portable Breath Tests and Standardized Field Sobriety Tests In New Jersey

Portable Breath Tests

Some police departments in New Jersey use what is called a Portable Breath Test, or PBT. The PBT produces a reading but the results are not admissible as proof of intoxication in a trial. This is because PBTs have never been the subject of a Frye hearing, which is a type of hearing in which a judge decides whether a particular piece of “scientific” evidence is generally accepted in the scientific community. 

So while many police departments ask defendants to take a PBT, law enforcement officers rarely report the actual reading given by the device in their reports. Rather, the PBT reading is used as a tool to help the law enforcement officials decide whether to charge an individual with driving while intoxicated in cases where the law enforcement thinks the impairment of the suspect is borderline. 

It is important to note that, in New Jersey, you are not required to take a portable breath test.

Standardized Field Sobriety Test

The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). Police officers are trained in how to effectively administer the tests, which are designed to measure impairment and purportedly correlate to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over .08%. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) consists of three parts: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn. Specifics of these are as follows:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus 

There is an involuntary jerking of the eye that naturally occurs when the eye gazes to the side. When someone is impaired by alcohol, this jerking of the eye is exaggerated. The police use three indicators from this test to determine impairment:  eye-jerking within 45 degrees of center, the individual’s inability to follow a moving object smoothly, and distinct eye jerking when the eye is at maximum deviation.

  • One-Leg Stand

The suspect is asked to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground for a count of 30 seconds. Impairment from alcohol may be evidenced by hopping, putting the foot down on the ground, swaying while balancing, or using arms to balance.

  • Walk and Turn 

The walk and turn test assesses the suspect’s ability to complete three tasks with divided attention. The 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.

It is important to understand that the elements of the SFST are not deemed to be reliable unless they are given in the prescribed manner. That means that the instructions have to be given the same way every time. There are certain “clues” that officers are trained to look for in evaluating a person’s performance on the tests. The tests are not pass/fail but have “decision points” to aid an officer in determining whether a person has performed satisfactorily on a particular test. Like the PBT, you do not have to take the SFSTs, but a judge can infer consciousness of guilt from your refusal to perform them. 

In most cases, suspects who fail the field sobriety test are asked to submit to a breathalyzer test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) prior to arrest. If you have taken the portable breath test and have been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who has experience in evaluating both an officer’s administration of the SFSTs and a defendant’s performance on the tests.

Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain New Jersey’s Implied Consent Laws For DWI/DUI

You may be familiar with the term “implied consent” when it comes to being pulled over under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). But what does it actually mean and does it apply to a field sobriety test?

In New Jersey, “implied consent” means that as a condition of receiving a drivers’ license and driving on the roads in New Jersey, you have already agreed to submit to chemical testing for intoxication to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if you are suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI). This type of testing — such as a breathalyzer, urine sample, or blood sample — is different from a field sobriety test or roadside test. Law enforcement officers can not force you to submit to a field sobriety test — there is no implied consent for this type of test. 

However, if you are asked to blow into a device for a breathalyzer test and you refuse, there are consequences. Breath test refusal is in and of itself a criminal offense and there are penalties separate from the DWI penalties themselves. If you have questions about the portable breath test in New Jersey, contact our office to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney at Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Breath Tests In Mercer County, Middlesex County, and Monmouth County, NJ

FAQ: What typically happens once someone has been pulled over on suspicion of DWI?

Once someone has been pulled over, the police officer may start asking them questions to determine whether the motorist was driving while intoxicated (DWI). The officer will often smell the “odor of an alcoholic beverage” which leads them to believe that the person being stopped has been drinking and may be under the influence of alcohol. The officer will want to know where the person is coming from, or where they are going. They will ask whether the person has had anything to drink, and how much.

FAQ: What is a pre-exit test?

After you are pulled over under suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and have been questioned, the officer might perform what are known as “pre-exit tests,” such as asking you to count backward from one number to another or recite the alphabet from one letter to another.

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