Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Tests in Albuquerque DWI Cases

Albuquerque DWI Defense Attorney

If you broke a traffic law or were driving erratically, a policeman can pull you over. After that, if the officer notices the smell of alcohol, an open container of alcohol or signs that could indicate that you are intoxicated (bloodshot eyes or inability to follow basic commands, for example), the officer can ask you to perform field sobriety tests.

Field sobriety tests judge your ability to demonstrate simple motor skills such as touching a finger to your nose or standing on one leg. The three most common field sobriety tests include the following:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (this is when an officer uses a flashlight or pen to determine alcohol impairment. When a person is intoxicated, nystagmus or the jerking of the eyeball is exaggerated and may occur at lesser angles).
  • Walk and Turn (this requires an individual to listen and follow instructions while fulfilling simple physical movement. You are directed to walk nine steps, heel to toe, along a straight line, you must then turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction).
  • One-Leg Stand (this is when you are instructed to hold one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count out loud by the thousands, until you are told to put your foot down).

In New Mexico, you do not have to submit to a field sobriety test, so when prompted, you can deny an officer's request. Field sobriety tests are optional and police officers should inform drivers of this fact, however, often an officer fails to do so.

Keep in mind that if you refuse to perform field sobriety tests, an officer can ask you to take a breathalyzer test. This request is not optional, so sometimes it is best to comply with an officer's first request to perform field sobriety tests. Speak to an Albuquerque criminal defense lawyer from our firm if you have incurred DWI charges as a result of a field sobriety test. We can make sure that you are properly defended against the prosecution.

Defenses Available to You

These tests are designed to measure your level of sobriety. Comments you make during these tests can be used against you. If you failed your field sobriety tests, there may be defenses available to you. Often, field sobriety tests are not the best indication of whether or not an individual is sober (or whether or not his/her blood alcohol content level is beneath the legal limit). 

Factors such as age, weight and health conditions can affect someone's performance level. A person's balance and mental cognition can be affected by other factors besides alcohol (for example, were you sick or tired at the time? Was the road uneven or wet? Was it dark?). Even when an individual is sober, it can be difficult to pass field sobriety tests. Here are some reasons why:

  • The judgment of the individual in question is up to the officer's discernment (and sometimes officers are not properly trained to render this decision)
  • Medications and illnesses can affect bodily functions such as balance, coordination and eye movement
  • Some individuals are more prone to balance issues
  • Anxiety can affect your performance on field sobriety tests

Field sobriety tests often fail to accurately portray a driver's true state of impairment; Romero Law Firm, P.A. will do everything within its power to disprove the results of your field sobriety tests and uphold your innocence! Contact our office now at (505) 633-8828 to secure the competent Albuquerque DUI lawyer you deserve on your side. You are innocent until proven guilty and we will leave no stone unturned in our process of exonerating you!

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