Picking up on our discussion previously regarding fighting a drunk driving charge, we’ve already talked about the possible causes of failing one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests that most police officers administer to allegedly drunk drivers in order to gauge their level of so-called drunkenness.
As a New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense lawyer, I and my colleagues know the procedures that law enforcement departments train their officers to follow when arresting a motorist for driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription medication or illegal drugs. These tests are designed to evaluate a person’s level of inebriation, but they can also result in false assumptions.
In fact, an individual doesn’t need to be drunk to fail a field sobriety test, or FST. Many people who have had nothing alcoholic to drink can still struggle to pass FSTs under a variety of conditions. The takeaway here is that even if you ever struggled and possibly failed the FSTs, it can still be attributed to the setting and circumstances of the test, and not always because a person is intoxicated.
For those who do not agree, simply attempt to accomplish some of the standardized field sobriety tests at home, in a comfortable non-threatening setting, on a level and firm floor, and without any nervousness or anxiety. You could be surprised at what you discover.
When a skilled drunk driving defense lawyer is there by an individual’s side to raise reasonable doubt in the court’s mind as to whether or not that person was indeed intoxicated, the results can also be surprising.
Meanwhile, there are other, rather innocent explanations for various “symptoms” of drunkenness. Many police officers will claim to have observed certain of these “objective symptoms of intoxication” in a person suspected of drunken driving. The standard list includes the following:
- Bloodshot and watery eyes
- Slurred speech
- A flushed face and
- An unsteady gait
Oddly enough, DWI police reports can include pre-printed boxes indicating some or all of these so-called symptoms, right there waiting for an officer to check them off. At any rate, the non-alcohol causes for these observations often include fatigue, allergies or eye strain that can cause bloodshot eyes, nervousness, embarrassment and/or anger about being pulled over in the first place, which can result in flushing. Even a feeling of intimidation or being flustered by the event can result in slurred speech.
Unfortunately, the police rarely take these innocent explanations into account. This is why an experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney is someone that should be consulted whenever a motorist feels he or she was falsely accused of driving drunk.