Massachusetts Field Sobriety Tests: Here is What You Need To Know

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If the police pull you over and suspect that you have been drinking or are impaired by drugs, there is a strong chance that they will ask you to perform some field sobriety tests. The standard field sobriety test is a tool that police officers use to develop probable cause to arrest you and are used by prosecutors at trial to prove that you were drunk. The standard field sobriety test is actually a battery of various tests that the police use as an evidence-gathering tool. The most commonly deployed field sobriety tests include:

  • The one-leg stand
  • The walk-and-turn
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • The alphabet test and/or counting test

If you have been asked to perform field sobriety testing, there are two things you should keep in mind. First, the tests are not designed to be “passed;” they are designed to allow officers to obtain evidence that they can use against you in an OUI case. As a result, if you are asked to perform field sobriety testing, it is a safe bet that the officer already thinks you are impaired and plans to arrest you.

Second, you are free to refuse field sobriety testing in Massachusetts, and your refusal cannot be used against you at trial. This means that the prosecutor cannot tell the jury that you were offered these tests and that you declined.. For this reason, under most circumstances, it is advisable to refuse to perform field sobriety testing. Performing field sobriety testing is much more likely to hurt your case than help it.

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If you have been accused of OUI, you should contact a lawyer as soon as you can. Attorney Ashely McCormack is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is committed to protecting her clients’ rights. To schedule a free case evaluation, call our office today or contact us online.

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Can you pass field sobriety tests?

No. Field sobriety tests are less about determining whether you are intoxicated and more about allowing the police to gather evidence that supports their belief that you are intoxicated.

Do I need an attorney for my first OUI charge?

It is highly advisable to retain an attorney for any criminal matter, including a first OUI charge.

If I consented to field sobriety testing, do I have any other options than pleading guilty?

Yes. You can always choose to fight your charges, and observations made during field sobriety testing are not necessarily strong evidence against you.

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