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New Jersey field sobriety tests and DUI

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

When a New Jersey police officer makes a traffic stop, the driver may be asked to exit his or her vehicle. This is a typical procedure if the officer suspects a driver of intoxication. Once the driver is out of the car, the individual may be asked to take a DUI field sobriety test.

This is where things can get complicated. Drivers are not obligated to take such tests. Many people do not realize that field sobriety tests are optional. A police officer does not have to inform a driver that he or she is free to decline a field sobriety test.

The validity of a field sobriety test may be challenged in court

There are three basic types of field sobriety tests that New Jersey police often use to determine if there is probable cause to make a DUI arrest. These include a walk-and-turn test, a horizontal gaze nystagmus test and one-leg stance test. A person might have medical conditions or past injuries that impede his or her ability to perform well on such tests, which means that the results of the test may not be accurate. If a police officer fails to ask whether such conditions exist, and an arrest takes place, an individual, accused of DUI might challenge the validity of the field sobriety test in court.

A prosecutor might mention a test refusal during a DUI trial

While there are no penalties for refusing a field sobriety test in New Jersey, a prosecutor might introduce evidence at trial that a defendant refused to take the FST, trying to create an inference that the accused had consciousness of guilt. For this reason, many motorists determine it is best to comply when requested to take a sobriety test. It is also wise to seek immediate legal support when taken into police custody for suspected drunk driving.