New Haven Field Sobriety Tests

When a person is ever pulled over by a law enforcement officer in New Haven and suspected of being under the influence, it is important that they are aware of the types of tests officers will conduct, and the legal right to refuse these tests without incurring additional penalties. Furthermore, an individual should be familiar with what officers are looking for and the importance of contact a  New Haven DUI lawyer as soon as possible to ensure all your rights are protected throughout the stop.

Types of Tests

Field sobriety tests are tests that a police officer will give someone they suspect of being under the influence. Oftentimes these tests are administered right on the side of the road, and are supposed to  assist the officer in gauging whether someone is under the influence of not. Typically there are three standard tests administered:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test essentially whether or not there is nystagmus in an individual’s eye, referring to whether there is equal tracking of their pupils. If they show lack of equal tracking, it is an indication of intoxication and they will fail that test, and it could be used for evidence of intoxication.

Walk and Turn

The walk and turn test is more or less a test for divided attention through balancing. A person walks a straight line back and forth, and if they step off the line or do not have the requisite spaces between their feet while walking, they will fail the test.

One-Leg Stand

One-leg stand is like the walk and turn test, where a person stands on one leg and counts out loud. Once again, it is a divided-attention test to check their balance and see whether they can do two things at once.

Other Tests

There are a number of other tests which Connecticut law enforcement officers may use during the field sobriety testing, but they are not certified field tests. They could use an alphabet test or finger-to-nose test, but those are not standardized field tests supported by background research and studies.

Administration of Field

In New Haven, there is a manual on which all the police officers are trained that teaches them exactly how to perform the tests. It is very rare that an officer actually performs the tests to standard, however, doing all the individual parts of which the tests are supposed to be comprised.

Despite that, Connecticut courts uphold that the police do not have to follow the instruction manual and it just needs to be partial compliance. Therefore, the reliability of the tests still remains intact, despite non-compliance by the officer.

Weight of the Tests at Trial

At a New Haven DMV case, these tests do not matter at all. The courts have said that the probable cause requirement for the DMV process is basically an empty requirement and very limited probable cause is needed, meaning the field tests really do not have anything to do with the DMV process.

On the court case side, if a person is at trial, they need an expert to attack these tests. The tests are very important, especially when it comes down to a common law DWI where there is no chemical test and the only indication of intoxication is the smell of alcohol and these field tests. They, therefore, become a crucial point in any DWI trial.

Right to Refusal

An individual is allowed to refuse to perform the field test on the side of the road. The officer does not tell you that you can refuse them, but it is within a person’s rights in Connecticut with no negative consequences legally to refuse.

However, if a person is standing outside the car and the officer asks them to take the test to see if they are intoxicated and they say no, the police are probably going to arrest them anyway.