If a police officer pulls you over for speeding, and suspects that you may have been drinking, they may perform field sobriety tests on you. These tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN), the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test. The officer will use these tests to determine if you are impaired and if they have probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
An officer may ask you to perform these tests, but you have the right to decline. However, if you decline, the officer may arrest you based on their observations. When arrested, the first thing you should do is contact personal injury lawyers. You should not say anything until you speak to legal counsel. If you are in need of legal counsel, call the experienced lawyers at Bellotti Law Group, P.C to help you today. Call 617-225-2100 for a free consultation.
How and When Exactly Do Sobriety Tests Happen?
If the police reasonably suspect a driver may be drunk, they have the authority to conduct a field sobriety test. This “reasonable suspicion” standard is the lowest criminal standard used by courts. This makes drivers more vulnerable to arrest if they fail the test. The reasonable suspicion standard is the lowest criminal standard used by courts to conduct these tests.
In the case of Blaise v. Commonwealth, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled that an officer does not need the same level of suspicion to order a sobriety test as he would arrest a driver. An officer’s standard to justify an arrest is probable cause, while a lesser standard governs whether an officer can request a motorist take a field sobriety test.
The reasonable suspicion test determines whether an individual can be subjected to a stop and frisk test by police. This test requires minimal evidence and is less stringent than the probable cause test. The probable cause test determines whether there is enough evidence to search or arrest an individual.
In the case of Blaise v. Commonwealth, the Massachusetts SJC ruled on whether or not a field sobriety test given to a driver following a traffic stop constituted an unreasonable search and seizure, under the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The court found that a field sobriety test does not pose the same level of intrusion on the driver’s privacy rights as an arrest or full search and therefore does not require the same probable cause standard. In these situations, it is still best to have personal injury lawyers by your side as added legal protection.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled those police officers are allowed to administer field sobriety tests to drivers if there is reason to believe that they may be driving under the influence. This ruling expands on the Supreme Court’s previous ruling in Terry v. Ohio, which allows officers to stop and frisk individuals if they believe they pose a threat to public safety.
Hire the Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Massachusetts Now
An OUI charge can be overwhelming emotionally and financially. At Bellotti Law Group, clients turn their concerns over to our lawyers. We address the legal and financial details while you and your family focus on recovery and moving on with your lives. We pride ourselves in partnering closely with clients and working to understand their individual concerns to help obtain the best solution. Know someone who was wrongfully arrested due to or given a field sobriety test? Talk to Bellotti Law Group today. We’re the best personal injury lawyers in Massachusetts that fight for your case and deliver excellent results. Get your free consultation now by visiting our website or calling 617-225-2100!