Massachusetts Field Sobriety Test Laws
Police officers in Massachusetts that have pulled over someone on suspicion of drunk driving will usually ask the driver to undertake a field sobriety test. In fact, under Massachusetts drunk driver laws, police aren’t required to administer a field sobriety test. A police officer is allowed to make an arrest as long as they have probable cause to believe the driver was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Just like a refusal of a breath test, a refusal to perform a field sobriety test cannot be used against you in a court of law.
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What Field Sobriety Tests Measure
DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Field sobriety tests are divided-attention tests that are designed to test the operator’s coordination, balance, short term memory, information processing and ability to do multiple tasks at once. These tests allow the police officer to gauge the level of coordination which then allows them to draw an inference as to how intoxicated the operator is. However, there are several reasons a completely sober person undertaking a field sobriety test would produce results consistent with those of an intoxicated person.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has developed three standardized sobriety tests. A Massachusetts police officer administering a field sobriety test will often use these standardized tests:
The jury, or judge if it is a bench trial, will determine the weight of the field sobriety evidence. They will have to take into account the circumstances surrounding the tests.
Field Sobriety Tests Are Not Always Accurate
The following are some factors that cause coordination problems consistent with intoxication: poor lighting, the lights from a police car, failure of the police officer to adequately explain or demonstrate the tests, type of footwear, medical conditions including ear infections, diabetes and seizure disorders, physical problems, problems with eyesight, an uneven, slippery or defective surface, weight, weather, etc.
Our Brockton, MA Law Firm Can Help You
A good attorney will present the jury any conditions that bear on the validity of the test in order to create a reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind. It is up to your attorney to investigate the facts to determine if the surface was indeed level, dry and hard, or if the officer adequately explained and demonstrated the tests.
Attorney Noonan has DUI trial law experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He knows how these tests should be performed. By examining the police report and cross-examining the police officer on the stand, attorney Noonan is able to deconstruct the events and circumstances surrounding your field sobriety test. This allows him to assess the validity of the tests.
False Field Sobriety Test Results? Call us for help.
Our knowledgeable and experienced Boston Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Massachusetts, including but not limited to Plymouth County including Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Hingham, Wareham, Middleboro; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham; and Middlesex County including Cambridge, Lowell, Somerville, Newton, Framingham, Malden, Chelsea, Everett, Arlington, Medford and Waltham; and Essex County including Lynn, Lawrence and Salem; and the greater Greater Boston area including Revere, Dorchester and Roxbury
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