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New Jersey DWI Non-Standardized FSTs

Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has only confirmed three field sobriety tests as valid indicators of intoxication, New Jersey DWI lawyers see all kinds of so-called “non-standardized” tests being used against their clients.

These tests have no real guidelines for how they should be administered, how instructions should be given, or how results should be interpreted. They haven’t been tested, or in some cases have been shown to be unreliable. Yet they are presented to jurors as if they have the full force of scientific evidence. A good New Jersey DWI lawyer will be able to attack the validity of these tests in court during cross-examination of the arresting officer.

If any of the three following non-standardized field sobriety tests were administered during your traffic stop, be sure to let your attorney know during your first meeting.

Alphabet Test

Contrary to popular belief, New Jersey DWI suspects are not commonly asked to recite the alphabet backwards. Few people are able to do this normally—how could it possibly differentiate between sober and drunk test subjects? However, another form of “alphabet testing” is sometimes used. Test subjects are asked to recite either the full alphabet or part of the alphabet (starting at H and stopping at P, for example).

Count Down Test

The count down test is similar in some ways to the alphabet test. In it, a subject is asked to count backwards from some number to some other number. In either the alphabet test or the count down test, a subject may be asked to stand heel-to-toe. This has no bearing on the validity of the test (which is non-existent to begin with).

Finger-to-Nose Test

This is one of the more commonly known field sobriety tests, and it surprises some people to learn that it is not one of the standardized tests. In it, a subject is asked to close his eyes and alternate touching his left and right index fingers to his nose.