If you are suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol, you may be asked to submit to field sobriety tests. Under Massachusetts law, you must generally do so or risk losing your license or facing other penalties. There are numerous ways that you may be able to challenge the results of these tests in the event that they are used to charge you with DUI.
Challenge the test itself
There is a good chance that an officer will ask you to stand on one leg, recite letters of the alphabet or count backward. While these tests may be commonly used, it doesn’t mean that they are accurate or even lawful measures of your overall level of impairment. Challenging the validity of a test may create sufficient doubt to have your drunk driving case dropped or charges reduced before trial. It may also convince a jury to acquit you of the charge.
Challenge how the test is conducted
Even if a test is lawful, it must still be conducted properly. For example, you may be able to assert that the officer who took you into custody never explained how the test worked or otherwise made it overly difficult to follow instructions adequately.
Mental or physical issues may be present
If you have a broken foot or swollen ankle, the one-leg test may not prove anything other than it is difficult to stand when you are injured. If you have a mental disability, following directions or speaking clearly to officers may be impossible. You may claim that officers unlawfully ignored your mental or physical problems when accessing your performance on a field sobriety test.
A drunk driving conviction may result in jail time, fines and other penalties, such as higher auto insurance rates. However, if you can counter the government’s case successfully, avoiding some or all of these negative consequences may be possible.