If you are stopped under suspicion of OUI in Massachusetts you will most likely be offered the opportunity to perform field sobriety tests. You are under no obligation to do these tests, and any refusal to try these tests is inadmissible in the Commonwealth’s case in chief. If you do elect to do these tests, the three standard exercises most commonly requested by the police are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the nine step walk and turn test, as well as, the one leg stand test.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is based on the science of ophthalmology. There is purportedly a correlation between the involuntary movement of the human eye and alcohol intoxication. The theory goes that if someone is intoxicated there will be this involuntary movement of the eye. In this test the police will ask the subject to follow a pen from side to side without moving their head.
This test is inadmissible in Massachusetts without the testimony of a qualified expert explaining the correlation between alcohol consumption and nystagmus. An eye doctor would likely be necessary for this test to come into the Commonwealth’s case in chief.
Additionally, the nine step walk and turn, as well as, the one leg stand test are two standardized tests that purportedly measure an individual’s ability to maintain balance and follow instructions. These tests can be impacted by age as well as medical conditions including; obesity, knee problems, and general balance problems. Difficulty on these tests doesn’t necessarily translate to alcohol impairment.
As a result, if you or someone you know is charged with OUI after performing these standardized field tests, contact an OUI Lawyer who understands what the police look for in these exercises. Don’t take an OUI charge lightly, your livelihood may depend on it.