One Leg Standing: This test is used to assess your physical ability to maintain a position and determine whether you have the capacity to handle multiple tasks at one time. The officer will explain the test: You must lift one foot off the ground 6-10 inches while keeping your arms at their sides. Then, you are told to count out loud to 30 before lowering your foot. A police officer will be looking at whether you need your arms for balance and whether you touch the ground with your foot, in addition to how well you maintain the 30 count.
Walk and Turn: Another multi-tasking test, the walk and turn requires you to take a designated number of steps, pivot, and then return to the start. To make it challenging, the police officer will direct that your steps be heel-to-toe, which can impact your physical capabilities similarly to the one leg standing test. The officer will be watching for you to count the proper number of steps and whether you need your arms to assist with balance.
Horizontal Gaze: Also known as the nystagmus test, this exam assesses your level of intoxication by checking your eyes. A police officer will ask you to focus on an object, such as a pen or cell phone. He or she will then move the object side to side, looking at how well your eyes follow the movement. Jerking of the eyes as the gaze passes is called nystagmus, and can lead to a failed test.
Refusing a Field Sobriety Test: In Maryland, there is no legal requirement to submit to field sobriety tests; there are no consequences for refusing, as there are with a blood test under the state’s implied consent laws. Still, refusal may create the presumption that you are driving drunk, which can lead to your arrest.
These field sobriety tests are officially authorized by the NHTSA, but it’s still possible to successfully contest the results in court to fight a DUI or DWI in Maryland. The key to protecting your interests is retaining an experienced attorney that will present all available defenses under the law. If convicted, you could be facing harsh consequences, including losing your license and hefty fines. For more information on field sobriety tests and your options for challenging DUI/DWI charges, please contact attorney Michael A. Freedman to discuss your case.
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