Drivers under investigation for a New Jersey DWI / DUI or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in New Jersey typically undergo field sobriety tests such as the finger-to-nose test before being placed under arrest. Many drivers hope they'll avoid an arrest by "passing" the finger-to-nose test, but that's rarely the case, because this test is designed to be failed.
In reality, field sobriety tests are used to create probable cause for an arrest and generate evidence for a drunk driving court case. However, the results of field sobriety tests can be effectively challenged. A Levow DWI Law New Jersey DWI defense attorney who focuses solely on DUI / DWI cases will aggressively attack the results of the finger-to-nose test and other evidence in a NJ driving under the influence case.
Police administering the finger-to-nose test direct the driver to tip his or her head back with eyes closed and touch the left and right index fingers to the nose at random. The officer watches for the following clues that a driver is intoxicated: An inability to follow instructions, swaying, a lack of depth perception, muscle tightening or tremors, or an inability to touch finger directly to tip of the nose. The officer will also note any statements made by the driver during the test performance.
However, this evidence can be challenged in court. The finger-to-nose test is so unreliable a tool for evaluating intoxication that it isn't even one of the accepted standardized field tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The finger-to-nose test has no objective scoring system, and the officer's opinion determines whether the driver 'passes' or 'fails'. Because NHTSA does not recognize the finger-to-nose test as a reliable indicator of mental and physical impairment, it carries less weight in court than a standardized test.
It's easy to see why drivers 'fail' the finger-to-nose test, because it isn't administered under the best of conditions - it's usually given by the side of a busy street or freeway, with cars racing past. The driver is typically extremely nervous after being pulled over.
The inherent flaws in the finger-to-nose test mean that it can be successfully challenged. An experienced New Jersey DWI / DUI defense attorney will cross-examine the arresting officer about the driver's performance on the finger-to-nose test, and establish that the results could just as easily show that the driver wasn't impaired.
All of the DWI defense attorneys at Levow DWI Law have been trained in the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) instructors. Evan Levow is a qualified instructor in the SFSTs. This means that we are going to know if and when the officer in your case administered the field tests to you properly. If not, we will seek to have your arrest suppressed, or will attempt to demonstrate that the exercises you performed are of limited evidential value.