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James N. Papirmeister, P.C.

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Are standardized field sobriety tests reliable?

Many of our previous posts here have addressed the severe nature of consequences that accompany a DUI charge in Maryland. For starters, there is the prospect of being placed in jail in the immediate aftermath of the arrest, which could jeopardize a person's employment. Then, there is the likelihood of an automatic license suspension. And then, if the case leads to a conviction, a defendant could be subjected to court supervision through a term of probation, which can include restrictions on a person's liberties.

But, many people do not realize that there may be options to attack the evidence that the prosecution will attempt to use to prove drunk driving charges. One option is to go after the results of field sobriety tests. After all, how reliable are those tests?

Well, as it turns out, there is quite a bit of credibility to question the results of a field sobriety test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has pointed out that, in many cases, the results of these tests might only be reliable about half of the time - that means that, in the other half of cases, the tests may not be all that reliable in helping police officers determine intoxication levels.

Beyond the tests results themselves, a criminal defendant may be able to challenge the administration of the tests. In many cases, the tests occur at night, on a roadside. Were the conditions conducive to obtaining accurate test results? Did the police officer follow all of the appropriate steps in the procedures to administer the test? Maryland residents may be able to ask these questions and get favorable results when they are defending themselves against DUI charges.

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