Maryland DUI Law: Field Sobriety Tests

In the state of Maryland, field sobriety tests are commonly performed when a police officer is trying to determine whether you are under the influence of alcohol. They are designed in a manner that separates your ability to listen to and follow directions from your ability to perform physical tasks such as standing without swaying or walking a straight line.

The majority of police officers are trained and certified to perform a variety of standard field sobriety tests created by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. While these tests are standardized, there is some variability as to the way they are conducted. As a result, it is easy for a police officer to make a mistake in the performance of your field sobriety test which could influence the outcome of your case.

Common Field Sobriety Tests

The following field sobriety tests are commonly performed when determining whether you are under the influence of alcohol:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Alcohol can cause you to develop a condition called nystagmus, which consists of an involuntary jerking of your eyes. Police officers employ a variety of tests to evaluate this type of eye movement in an attempt to detect the presence of alcohol in your system. Walk and Turn You will be instructed to stand in a certain position, placing one foot in front of the other. You will then be required to walk heel to toe nine steps in one direction, pivot, and walk back nine steps in the other direction. The police officer will be checking to see if you make heel to toe contact, keep your feet on the line, and take the appropriate number of steps. One Leg Stand This test requires you to stand on one leg while lifting the other off the ground. You will be asked to count out loud during this process. The police officer will be checking to see whether you are using your arms for balance, swaying, counting correctly, or beginning the test before being instructed to start.

The Importance of Properly Analyzing Your Field Sobriety Test

It is important to work with an Annapolis DUI/DWI attorney who has extensive experience analyzing field sobriety tests. Often, what is omitted from the police officer's report of your field sobriety test performance is more important than the information documented in the report. A careful analysis of the field sobriety test report can often reveal mistakes made by the arresting officer which may impact the outcome of your case.

Before you hire an Annapolis DUI/DWI attorney, ask whether he has received police training on how to conduct field sobriety tests and read the associated report. This is an important skill for your lawyer to possess, and it can greatly improve your ability to receive a more favorable outcome for your case.

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