What are my Rights During a Field Sobriety Test in New York?



    In order for a law enforcement officer to pull over a driver on the road, they need to have probable cause. This may be the case if they see the driver swerving and believed to be intoxicated. When this happens, the officer may ask the individual to step outside the car and perform a series of roadside tests, known as field sobriety tests. The purpose of this is to determine if the driver is intoxicated in order to charge and convict them with a DWI. If you were charged with a DWI, it is important to retain the services of an experienced New York DWI defense attorney today for assistance with your case.

    Examples of Field Sobriety Tests

    There are different tests used by New York State law enforcement to determine intoxication. Three tests that are standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are:

    • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: When the driver uses only their eyes to track an officer’s pen, finger, or flashlight without moving their head. The officer is looking for Nystagmus, which is an unsteady movement in the eye. 
    • Walk and Turn Test: When the driver walks heel to toe with their right foot in front of their left, arms at their sides, and turn around properly.
    • One Leg Stand Test: When the driver stands on one foot and counts to 30 without losing their balance or perception of time. 

    Other tests that may be used but are not considered standardized include the Rhomberg balance test, the finger-to-nose test, reciting the alphabet, the hand-pat test, and the finger-tap test.

    Can I Refuse Sobriety Tests?

    In the state of New York, drivers are under implied consent laws. However, this is only for chemical tests. New York drivers have no lawful obligation to take field sobriety tests, as it does not fall under implied consent law. While this is true, it is important to know that refusal may potentially result in an arrest and be admissible against a driver later on in court. 

    How Are the Tests Standardized?

    The official name of these tests is Standard Field Sobriety Tests. They are “standardized” because there is an official way that they must be administered by law enforcement in order for them to be valid. If any steps of the tests are incorrectly administered, the results cannot be used in court against the driver.

    Contact our Firm

    Criminal matters can change the course of your life forever. This is why you need an experienced attorney who will aggressively combat your charges to help mitigate their long-term effects. If you are in need of experienced legal counsel for a criminal defense matter on Long Island or throughout New York State, please contact Grunwald & Seman, P.C. to schedule a consultation. We would be happy to assist you.

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