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Validity of Field Sobriety Tests in New Jersey

If the state’s DWI case against you relies heavily on field sobriety tests, your New Jersey DWI attorney may be able to weaken the state’s case against you if he can prove those tests were improperly administered.

There are a few different types of field sobriety tests commonly used by law enforcement officers, and each of them has its flaws. First, there are coordination tests, in which the officer tries to measure your ability to balance. These tests may involve having you stand on one leg or walk in a line. If you fall or stumble during this test, it is supposed to suggest intoxication. However, these tests can be affected by the environment in which they were administered. If, for example, the officer administered the test on a sloped gravel embankment, what is to say that you didn’t stumble because you slipped on the gravel and not because you were intoxicated? Your attorney might even be able to further weaken the state’s case by finding a way to demonstrate that you are uncoordinated even while sober.

There is also what is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. This test checks for involuntary twitching of the eye that could suggest intoxication. However, everyone has these irregular eye movements naturally to some degree, which could invalidate the test. In fact there are over a hundred different types and causes of nystagmus, other than drinking. If your DWI attorney determines that you have pronounced nystagmus, even when sober, it could weaken the state’s case.

Steven Hernandez is qualified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as an instructor in the proper administration of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, including Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. With these skill he has successfully defended hundred of clients charged with DWI, DUI, and Refusal.