How to challenge field sobriety tests in Massachusetts

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

A Massachusetts police officer may take you into custody for drunk or impaired driving based on the results of field sobriety tests. However, you may be able to challenge the results of those tests as part of your criminal defense strategy. If your efforts are successful, it may weaken the case against you enough to have the charge dropped or reduced as part of a plea deal. On the other hand, it may also be enough to obtain an acquittal in your case.

Health issues may skew test results

The officer who conducts a field sobriety test is required to take any mental or physical health issues into account when judging your performance. For instance, if you have a broken leg, it may not be possible to keep it in the air for any time. It may also make walking or turning extremely difficult. If you have a mental issue, understanding what the officer is asking you to do may make it difficult or impossible. If it can be shown that these types of problems were ignored, a judge or prosecutor might agree to drop the charge or take other action.

Tests aren’t always administered properly

A test that is not administered correctly may produce results that aren’t meaningful when determining your level of impairment. Furthermore, not all tests you are asked to perform can accurately measure your impairment level. For instance, counting down from a specific number or reciting a portion of the alphabet backward may not prove anything other than your ability to count or memorize the order of the letters. Other tests, such as the one-leg stand that are commonly used, may not be reliable enough to stand up to scrutiny in court, which means challenging them may be an ideal criminal defense tactic.

If convicted of DUI, you may spend time in jail, lose your ability to drive, or face other consequences. However, casting doubt on evidence used to justify charging you with this crime may help you avoid some or all of these penalties.


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