New Hampshire Field Sobriety Test Lawyers
Decades of Success in Court
State troopers and local police officers are all trained at the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Academy. They are trained to administer several different field sobriety tests when they pull someone over for DUI/DWI. The officers and troopers are trained to administer during a DUI stop three types of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Our New Hampshire field sobriety test lawyers can represent your case and fight to prove you weren’t impaired. At Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., we put our clients first.
Field Sobriety Tests & Proceedings
The 3 SFSTs are:
- HGN – Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
- 9-step walk and turn
- One Leg Stand – OLS
If you were arrested for DUI, you probably had those 3 tests given to you in that order. The HGN is the eye test. With the HGN, the officer tries to see whether your eyeball starts to quiver before you move it all the way to one side. If it does, the officer will mark it a failure and use it as probable cause to support an arrest for DUI. The walk and turn and OLS tests are basically tests of balance and ability to follow instructions. If the officer believes you have failed one or more of these tests, he or she will either arrest you on the spot, offer you another physical test, or offer you a preliminary breath test at the roadside. If you fail twice, you will be arrested for DUI/DWI.
Of course, if you’ve been arrested after doing field sobriety tests, the officer will write in his report that you failed them. We often disagree with the officer’s conclusion and analyze their report so we can use it to demonstrate that you were not impaired. This is often where DUI trials are won.
If you’ve failed your sobriety tests, don’t worry. Call our New Hampshire field sobriety test attorneys now at (603) 288-1403.
Q:What’s an administrative license suspension?
A:When you are charged with DUI/DWI, you are faced with a 6-month license suspension through the Department of Safety if you blow over .08, or if you refuse to blow – either way. You are entitled to a hearing at the Department of Safety, where the burden of proof is much lower than it is in court. You must request a hearing within 30 days, or you lose the right to have a hearing on your DUI administrative suspension.
Q:Should I take a breath test?
A:This is one of the most common questions people ask us. Unfortunately, there is no correct answer because there are so many variables. First off, the Intoxylizer 5000 breath machine that the police use is prone to user error. Second, for a variety of complicated medical reasons, the machine assumes that you have the “average” physiology. You don’t. We are all different and we all digest and burn off alcohol differently. Third, by the time the police ask you to take a breath test, you are no longer in the same condition that you were while driving. Depending on when and how much you had to drink, your BAC may be higher or lower than it was when you were actually driving. At best, the Intoxilyzer 5000 provides a rough estimate of your BAC. The penalty for refusing to take the breath test is a 6-month loss of license. This is a significant price to pay for a refusal, but in some cases it might be the best course of action. Unfortunately, no single piece of advice applies in all possible cases.
Q:Can I go to jail?
A:If you have not been convicted of a DWI before and if you are not charged with any additional crimes, then you can relax, because the answer is “no.” If you have a prior DWI conviction within the past 10 years, then the law calls for a mandatory sentence of 3 days in the county jail, followed by a one-week stay at the multiple offender program.
Q:Why did the police ask me to stand on one leg?
A:The “one-leg test” is one of several roadside tests that the police may ask you to perform. The dirty little secret that the police will not tell you about these tests is that you are not being scored on your dexterity alone. You are also be scored on whether you followed the directions perfectly, whether you were able to stand without swaying when the instructions were being given, and several other factors as well. The police call these “divided attention tests” because they believe that the presence of alcohol diminishes your ability to perform multiple tasks at once. It is misleading for the police not to tell you this, but they do it anyway.
Q:How much can I drink and still be legal to drive?
A:We are asked this question a lot, and the answer usually surprises people. In order for a judge to find you guilty of DWI in New Hampshire, the police need only to show that your ability to drive was impaired by alcohol to any degree. This about that again: to any degree. A scientist would tell you that one-half of one beer impairs your physical and mental abilities to some degree. You do not see Dale Earnhardt Jr. sipping on half a beer before a race, right? Fortunately, in all the years we’ve been prosecuting and defending these cases, we’ve never seen anyone convicted for driving under the influence of one drink. One of the sneaky ways that the police get people to convict themselves is to ask them to say, on a scale of 1 to 10, how “buzzed” they feel. Most people will answer by saying they feel that they are between 2 and 4 on the 10-point scale. This is sometimes enough for a judge to find a person guilty, even though they are not even approaching the “legal limit” of .08.
Q:Do I really have a chance for an acquittal?
A:Yes. The DWI laws are complex and that means that there are plenty of places for the police to make mistakes that can lead to an acquittal. The system is full of opportunities for human and mechanical error. Also, it is important to remember that the police have the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Any of the myriad of mistakes can introduce enough doubt into a case to lead to an acquittal. It takes years of experience to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to mount a proper defense to a DWI charge. If you are charged with DWI, make sure you work with a lawyer that understands how the system works and how to investigate and present all possible defenses.