Field Sobriety Tests

Standardized Testing for DWI Evidence

New Hampshire police officers and state troopers have been trained to conduct a series of standardized field sobriety tests or FSTs on the roadside. In turn, our defense attorneys have also been trained on these tests and rely on that training to highlight the imperfections in such testing and create reasonable doubt in our cases. To attack many types of testing, our attorneys from Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. thoroughly confront law enforcement with the various clues that they are trained to observe, but that might not be present in any given case.

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The state often seeks to admit evidence derived from a horizontal gaze nystagmus test ("HGN"), which involves an officer conducting sweeps with a pen, flashlight or finger back and forth in front of a suspect's eyes. A series of New Hampshire Supreme Court cases impose specific foundational requirements before the State may admit such evidence in court, requiring that the officer establish his / her own training regarding the test and that he / she conducted the test based on a specific standard in any given test. Each sweep in this test should be timed and has a specific starting and stopping point. Our New Hampshire DWI attorneys understand the nuances of this test and rely on that understanding to challenge this evidence.

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Law enforcement also relies on a nine-step walk-and-turn test and one-leg stand test to support DWI cases. Each of these tests identifies a series of clues that are consistent with impairment. The nine step walk-and-turn test, includes a flurry of clues. These clues include: starting the test early, stepping out of the instructional position, stepping off the line, stopping, counting incorrectly, failing to hit heal to toe, using arms for balance, and conducting an improper turn. The One Leg Stand test includes clues for impairment such as touching down before the expiration of 30 seconds, hopping, swaying and using arms for balance. By pointing out the clues not present, we create questions regarding the strength of the state's impairment case.

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