Maryland Field Sobriety Tests

Receiving a state charge for inebriation while operating a motor vehicle is a scary situation to be in. You may wonder what could happen to your future upon conviction. Fortunately, the tools that officers use to demonstrate inebriation could be challenged in court. With the help of an attorney, you could draft a defense against Maryland field sobriety tests and better your chances of courtroom success.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are tests designed by and practiced by the National Highway and Safety Traffic Administration. They are designed to be conducted at the scene of a traffic stop or suspected DUI so that they elicit evidence that could be indicative of the presence of alcohol in the person’s system and the level of impairment due to alcohol ingestion. Importantly, there is not just one type of test that officers could perform. Fortunately, with the help of an attorney, alleged offenders could be more prepared for court and could draft a plan to rebuke state evidence.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is a test designed to show the presence of alcohol. It consists of an officer standing in front of the suspect and holding a stainless pen or penlight. An officer is supposed to hold it about a foot in front of the person’s face and move the stimulus from side to side horizontally in a prescribed path. The suspect is supposed to track the stimulus with their eyes, moving their eyes from side to side while keeping their head and the rest of the body still. They are not supposed to turn their head or twist their neck as they track the stimulus with their eyes moving from side to side.

The officer is supposed to move the stimulus from side to side, a certain distance to that 45-degree angle to either side, left and right, about six times to each side. With alcohol in someone’s system, there would be certain movements, like wiggles of the eyes, that show the presence of alcohol in a person’s system, which is what the officer is looking for. The test does not reveal the level of alcohol, so it may not be used to show impairment or intoxication. It intends to show whether or not there is alcohol in the person’s system and could be challenged with the help of a Maryland attorney.

Walk-and-Turn Test

The walk and turn test is a test in which the person is instructed to walk a certain number of steps forward, turn around, and walk back. There are specific instructions about how the person is supposed to walk. They are supposed to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line directly in front of the next. There is a specific way the person is supposed to exhibit when they turn around. There are a specific number of steps the person is going to kick out and kick back.

While being given the instructions for the steps, the person is instructed to stand a certain way, which is heel to toe while they are standing there listening to the instructions. The officer looks to see if the person is able to maintain their balance during the instructions without kneeling, stumbling, or stepping out. When the person performs the test, they are supposed to do different things to make sure the person takes the right number of steps, to make sure that they are walking to heel to toe in a straight line, and to make sure that they pivot and turn in the specific way that they were instructed to do. The officer could make general observations about the person’s ability to maintain their balance and charge that person with a Maryland DUI if necessary.

One-Leg-Stand Test

The one-leg-stand test is a test in which the person is instructed to balance on one leg, hold their other foot across the ground, hold their other leg, lift it from the ground straight and hold down in front of them, and count out loud for that 30 seconds to three. It is a balance test and the officer is making sure that the person is able to maintain that position without letting the leg raised hit the ground. They are also testing to see if a person counts at a steady pace to the right number. They should not count too high or too low. The one-leg-test and walk-and-turn test are both designed to show the level of impairment. It is unlike unlike the horizontal gaze nystagmus which only shows the presence of alcohol. The walk and turn and the one leg test could be used to show levels of impairment.

Defend Against Charges with an Attorney

Officers have a myriad of tools that they use to arrest individuals they suspect of driving under the influence of alcohol. However, these tools to not constitute guilt or a conviction, even if you are suspected to have had alcohol in your body. If you choose to retain the services of an attorney, that legal professional could fight Maryland field sobriety tests in court for you. Do not waste time dwelling over what has already happened, prepare a defense today by contacting an attorney.