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What Happens After You Are Pulled Over For A DWI In New Jersey?


What are field sobriety tests and when are those administered?

There are three standardized field sobriety tests or SFSTs, and they were created and approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Those are the only ones that could be used to convict somebody of being under the influence. They can also be used to allow the police officer to formulate probable cause to arrest somebody for being under the influence and operating a car, or DWI.

One of them is called Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN). That’s where the officer looks for an involuntary muscle contraction in the eye that causes the eyeball to shake. That test has never been proven to be scientifically reliable as a means of determining if someone is under the influence of alcohol. The results of that test, therefore, are not admissible in court.

The second standardized field sobriety test is called a Walk & Turn test or a W&T. That’s where the person suspected of DWI is asked to walk 9 steps forward, turn around, and come back 9 steps while counting their steps out loud, touching heel to toe, and keeping their hands at their sides.

The third test is called the One Leg Stand or OLS test. That’s where the person is told to raise their foot 6 inches off the ground, keep it parallel to the ground, look at their foot, keep their arms at their side, and count out loud until the officer tells them to stop. Usually it goes up to about 30.

Those are the standardized field sobriety tests that can be used by a judge to possibly convict you of drunk driving. Cops also give other tests like alphabet, touch your nose, and count backwards from a certain number to a certain number. All of those tests have no scientific reliability at all as to whether or not you’re under the influence, though. There is no correlation there.

Are they used as a way to determine whether or not to place you under arrest then?

They can be used in formulating a guess as to what’s called probable cause to place you under arrest. Usually, the officer gets you to say the alphabet so that he can hear whether your speech is slurred and whether your breath has the smell of alcohol in it.

In New Jersey, is the portable breathalyzer used on the side of the road?

Yes. They are called PBTs (Portable Breathalyzer Tests). Some towns use them; most of them only show a positive or negative indication of alcohol. They are not scientifically reliable, and the results are not allowed to be admitted as evidence in court.

Do most people confuse that test with the evidential breathalyzer at the station?

Some do. Some think that that’s the actual test.

Once you’ve been placed under arrest and you’re asked to take the evidential breathalyzer, what happens if you refuse to take it?

In New Jersey, the machine that we use is called an Alcotest. The model that we use now is the 7110 MK III-C. If you refuse, you will be charged with refusing to give a breath sample and with drunk driving. The statute for refusing gives the judge what’s called a “permissible inference” that you refused because you were drunk, so you will be charged with both offenses and they carry almost the same penalties.

For more information on field sobriety tests and DWI in New Jersey, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (856) 310-9800 today.

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