What are the Types of Field Sobriety Tests in New Jersey?

New Jersey takes driving under the influence very seriously, which is why there are many protocols in place if you are suspected of drunk driving. Contact our experienced New Jersey traffic violation attorneys to learn more about field sobriety tests and how we can help you if you were pulled over for drunk driving.

What are the most common types of field sobriety tests in New Jersey?

If you are suspected of drunk driving and are pulled over, you will likely be asked to take a field sobriety test. There are three types of sobriety tests that have been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and are the most common. They include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: This method is when the driver is asked to track the officer’s pen, finger, or flashlight with their eyes and without moving their head. The officer will then look for any unsteady movement in the eye, which is called Nystagmus to indicate any level of intoxication.
  • Walk and Turn Test: There are two parts to this test. First, the driver has to stand with their right foot in front of their left and their arms at their sides. The second step is to walk heel to toe and properly turn. Failure to do so can be a hint of intoxication.
  • One Leg Stand Test: This is when the driver will be told to stand on one foot and count to 30. If the driver loses their balance or loses their understanding of time, it may be a clue of intoxication.

What are the possible defenses for a failed field sobriety test?

A police officer must observe you for 20 minutes prior to administering the sobriety test. In those 20 minutes, an officer will look for signs of intoxication. After the test, the officer must read all of the instructions, demonstrate the tests and ensure that you understand what you are supposed to do. The most common defenses of a failed field sobriety test include, and are not limited to the following:

  • The officer did not demonstrate the test
  • The officer did not inform the individual that they may remove high heels
  • The officer did not read all the instructions
  • The individual has health issues preventing them from passing the test

Am I allowed to refuse a sobriety test?

Drivers in New Jersey are allowed to refuse a sobriety test with no penalties. However, breathalyzer tests cannot be refused. People may not realize that when they receive their driver’s license, they are consenting to a breath test.

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