New Jersey DWI Lawyer Evan Levow Says More Than Alcohol or Drugs Can Cause Poor Performance on a Field Sobriety Test

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New Jersey DWI Lawyer Evan Levow of Levow & Associates, P.A., advises on unfair test conditions during DWI field sobriety tests. A number of factors can compromise the tests and render them invalid assessments of intoxication.

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The field sobriety exercises are supposed to be tools for the officer to assess whether a suspect may be driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police are typically confident in their ability to discern when a DUI suspect has been driving under the influence, and DUI prosecutors are quick to use their judgments. However, a number of factors have been found to affect the validity of a DUI field sobriety test. In many cases, knowledge about unfair test conditions could mean the difference between freedom and jail, said New Jersey DWI Lawyer Evan Levow of Levow & Associates, P.A.

“The field sobriety exercises are supposed to be tools for the officer to assess whether a suspect may be driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Levow. “One problem with this is that the exercises people are being asked to do are not ones they normally do. Plus, they are often asked to perform under stressful or unusual circumstances.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the reliability of the exercises is reduced if any factors make the testing or the exercises more difficult to perform.

Unfair test conditions on the DWI field sobriety test may include:

  • Awkward footwear like high heels, boots or dress shoes
  • Physical injuries and-or low fitness level
  • Testing on a cold or gravel pavement, especially if one needs to remove their shoes
  • Distracting headlights and passing traffic
  • An uneven or gravelly test surface
  • A dark test area
  • Rain, cold temperatures, or wind
  • Anxiety, nervousness, inability to perform under pressure, and-or frustration

To clarify one of the points above, if a suspect is wearing shoes with a 2-inch heel or higher, the officer must offer the choice to remove the shoes before the balance exercise. If the officer does not ask, then according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) protocol, the results of any balance exercises are compromised and may be considered an invalid assessment of intoxication.

Removing shoes on a cold or gravel pavement, may also affect the ability to balance or walk.
“Unless the exercises are administered exactly according to protocol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the results are then not reliable predictors of alcohol intoxication,” wrote Levow in his blog (“NJ DWI Arrests: The Shoes You Were Wearing”).

Lawyers at Levow & Associates have been trained in the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing protocol and use that information to help defend DUI cases. Evan Levow is one of only 5 lawyers in the state qualified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as an instructor in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Contact Levow & Associates for a free consultation regarding your matter.

About Evan Levow and Levow & Associates, P.A.

New Jersey DWI Lawyer Evan Levow is the senior and managing partner of Levow & Associates and a nationally recognized DWI attorney. Levow represented the lead defendant in the most important DWI case in New Jersey history, State v. Chun. Mr. Levow was recognized by the National College for DUI Defense for the role he played in shaping DWI defense in NJ and nationwide.

Levow uses his unique knowledge of field sobriety testing and breath-testing machines to help defend his clients. He has lectured to other attorneys, judges and law enforcement throughout the country on theories of DWI defense and prosecution. Mr. Levow’s practice is 100% dedicated to DWI / DUI defense. He can be contacted at:

Levow & Associates, P.A.
Cherry Hill Plaza, Suite 200
1415 Route 70 East
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Phone: 877-735-2288 | (856) 428-5055
http://www.nj-dmv-dwi.com

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