Field Sobriety Tests
Almost any traffic stop by law enforcement is stressful. When you’re pulled over and the officer suspects that you are Driving While Impaired or Driving Under the Influence things are all the more nerve-racking. DUI/DWI arrests usually end up involving many factors and observations by the police that the State’s Attorney will attempt to use in their case against you. These factors usually include: Field Observations and Standardized Field Sobriety Tests which are the subjects of this page; They also, however, can include evidence resulting from any breath or blood tests. An experienced Baltimore County DUI/DWI lawyer can evaluate the significance of the State’s evidence and determine the best course of action for your particular situation. Attorney William A. Stavros has over twenty five years of experience handling DUI/DWI cases. His Baltimore County office is located in Towson and his Eastern Shore office is located in Queen Anne’s County in Centreville.
You can contact Mr. Stavros for a free consultation by calling (410) 825-3300 or (410) 739-0794 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
From the moment the officer decides to stop you, he’s making observations and notes about nearly everything – whether you’re weaving within or between lanes, how quickly you pull over, how long it takes for you to roll down your window, what you do when he asks for your license and registration, whether your hair is mussed up, how you speak to him and whether or not you smell of alcohol. Just about everything he sees can be used as evidence in a DUI/DWI case. These are called field observations, and the above is by no means an exhaustive list. These field observations can make for compelling testimony before the court. An experienced Baltimore County DUI/DWI attorney knows what to look for.
What Are Standard Field Sobriety Tests?
Along with field observations, there are what are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or SFSTs. There are three tests that were developed to show whether a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely has been impaired by drugs or alcohol. They have been the subject of scientific studies and are often given significant weight in Maryland state courts in DUI/DWI prosecutions. In a close case, the way these tests were performed can make or break your case. A skilled DUI/DWI lawyer knows how to spot the important legal and factual issues that can greatly affect the outcome.
Am I Required to Submit to Field Sobriety Tests?
No, you are not required to take field sobriety under Maryland law.
Some Basic Information About the Big Three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
If you choose to take the Field Sobriety Tests it is important to pay close attention to the specific instructions the officer gives. That being said, below is some very basic information regarding the three tests most commonly used in Maryland. This is by no means, however, a how to guide on taking these tests.
The WALK AND TURN TEST involves having the driver walk an imaginary straight line while counting out loud the number of steps taken, turn around in a prescribed way and take the same number of steps back. Among the things the officer is looking for are if the driver misses heel to toe on a the steps by more than one-half inch, stepping off the line, making the turn as instructed, and counting appropriately.
The ONE LEG STAND TEST involves the officer instructing the driver to stand with their feet together, raise one foot about six inches off the ground and count out loud. The officer is supposed to time this test for thirty seconds. Some of the indicators of impairment include needing to raise your arms for balance more than six inches, putting the foot down before being instructed to do so, and hopping on one foot.
The HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS TEST is complicated for layman to understand; this test involves the officer having the driver follow a stimulus – usually a pen or a finger – with his/her eyes only. The officer is checking for smooth pursuit , sustained and distinct nystagmus and onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. Through this test the officer is seeking to establish if the driver has alcohol in their blood.
It is important to remember that from the moment the officer becomes suspicious that someone is Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Impaired the officer will be paying attention to every move the driver makes. After any DUI/DWI arrest it is important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer as soon as possible.
The discussion above pertains to DUI and DWI arrests on non-Federal property in Maryland only. DUI/DWI charges on Federal property are subject to Federal laws and procedures. Contact William A. Stavros if you wish to discuss your Federal DUI/DWI case.
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