Massachusetts Police and Field Sobriety Tests

By Michael Franklin

Massachusetts Field Sobriety Tests are used by law enforcement officers to determine whether someone may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

There are several tests that may be administered however three tests are commonly used:

1.    Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). The officer will ask the suspect to follow an object with his eyes. As the object is moved further to the side of the person, a jerking of the eyes called HGN will occur. HGN is more prominent in impaired persons.
2.    The walk and turn requires the suspect to walk a number of steps instructed by the officer, touching their heel to toe with each step. Impaired persons may do the wrong number of steps or may not be able to touch heel to toe.
3.    The one leg stand. An impaired person may not be able to keep their hands at their sides and may wobble more.

The field sobriety tests may be modified in the case of an individual who may not be able to perform the tests for physical reasons. In this case, the walk and turn and the one leg stand may be replaced with other tests, such as listing a portion of the alphabet.

Police administer field sobriety tests to provide evidence that the driver is impaired while under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

In most states, including Massachusetts, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of over .08 is automatically considered illegal, but in some instances such as with drivers under age 21, even lower blood alcohol levels are also considered illegal.

Field sobriety tests may be challenged. Many tests can often be difficult to complete even while sober. An experienced defense attorney can identify errors and inconsistencies in the proper administration of a field sobriety test.

If you have been charged with operating under the influence of alcohol in Massachusetts you have the right to see any videos that may have been made as it may help your case.

If you are involved in a Massachusetts OUI case, there can be serious legal and financial consequences even on a first offense. Retaining experienced and proven legal counsel can make the difference.