If you are stopped while operating a motor vehicle on the public ways of the Commonwealth after consuming any amount of alcohol, you are likely to be asked to perform field sobriety tests. You are not required to perform field sobriety tests under Massachusetts law, and the question that needs to be asked in all DUI cases is, how reliable are the tests in determining impairment?
For instance, a standardized test that is often given is the nine step walk and turn test. Pursuant to this test, the police are looking to see if the person walks nine steps heel to toe in a straight line, with their arms by their sides. The person then has to turn in a prescribed manner, taking nine steps back to the starting position.
Without considering the case where an individual may have difficulty with balance even though he/she hasn’t consumed any alcohol, consider the case where someone is stopped on the side of the road, late at night, in very cold weather. If that person has to walk nine steps just off ofthe side of the highway, or other major roadway, with only headlights and a flashlight for lighting, should that person’s ability to keep their feet heel to toe determine impairment?
The answer is no, however, this is what happens in many roadside DUI cases across the Commonwealth. If this is the case for you, or you know someone who is in such a situation, focus on those DUI attorneys who will fight for you.