New Hampshire Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s)
Should I Take The Field Sobriety Test?
Everyone has an opinion about NH Field Sobriety Tests (“FST’s”). Police, prosecutors, and other members of the law enforcement community will likely tell you that FST’s are the best way to determine if someone is impaired by drugs or alcohol, short of a breath test.
Most defense attorneys will tell you FST’s are the biggest joke going and that their results are unscientific, unreliable, and mislead judges and juries all over the country.
Where do we stand on this issue? Well, their answer is simple – it doesn’t really matter what police and lawyers thinks about FST’s.
What matters is this: Does your JUDGE buy into the FST propaganda.
If you are in front of a judge who is skeptical about FST’s, then it may not matter how “badly” you did on them. On the other hand, if you have a judge who thinks that FST’s are as reliable and precise as the Hubbell telescope, then all the fuss about their unreliability isn’t going to matter either.
Well Should I Or Shouldn’t I Take It?
As a rule, we would recommend that you not take them – period. After all, if you don’t take any FST’s, then you won’t have to worry about what your judge thinks about them. If he doesn’t have any FST’s to consider during your trial, then they can’t be used against you.
As a rule of thumb, if the police officer stopped you for speeding, going through a stop sign, or some other minor traffic offense, then there should not be any reason to get you out of your car in the first place. His focus should be to write you a ticket or give you a warning and then send you on your way.
Exercise Your Rights, Simply Say No!
However, if he is asking you to step out of the car so that he (and other motorists) can watch you put on a balancing act, you probably should conclude that he has already made up his mind that you are drunk. The FST’s are just a way of gathering evidence against you to be used in court. Don’t buy into the whole “I just want to see if you are ok to drive.” If the officer thought you were ok to drive, then he wouldn’t be asking you to do FST’s.
Of course, we have all heard stories about the friend or the crazy uncle who passed the FST’s with flying colors, got a high-five from the officer, and was sent on his way.
Well, we don’t see those cases. Instead, we see cases where normal everyday people get arrested because they couldn’t stand on one foot for 30 seconds or touch their nose to an officer’s satisfaction.
Our advice is simple: if you have not been drinking and you are certain that there is no alcohol in your system then POLITELY say “No thank you” to FST’s and insist on a breath test.
If you know that you do have alcohol in your system and you are not sure how you’ll do on the FST’s, then don’t leave it to chance.
Lastly, consider this: Many (if not most) people cannot perform the field sobriety tests when they are sober and have not touched a drink. Then, WHY would you even attempt these acrobatic tests on the side of the road when you HAVE been drinking. For questions, please call.