Field Sobriety Tests

Under New Hampshire law (RSA 265-A:2), "No person shall drive or attempt to drive a vehicle upon any way or operate or attempt to operate an OHRV ... [while] such person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any controlled drug or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drugs; or" has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher or 0.02 or higher in the case of a minor, or person under 21 years of age.

New Hampshire law enforcement recognizes the dangers of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI), which is why they take special care to stop those suspected to be intoxicated or under the influence of controlled drugs or other substances.

When a law enforcement officer suspects a person of DWI or DUI, they have the right to ask the driver to submit to various field sobriety tests, in addition to chemical tests, in order to determine the level of impairment; and, by New Hampshire's Implied Consent law (RSA 265-A:4), the driver is legally obligated to submit to any and all of these tests, though, typically, the field sobriety tests will come first.

Common NH Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests in New Hampshire allow law enforcement to judge a person's level of impairment through various physical and mental exercises. These tests are difficult even if a person is completely sober. During the tests, the police officer will give verbal instructions and observe how, and if, the person follows them. There are a variety of tests a police officer may administer, but the most common include:

  • Walk and turn;
  • HGN or horizontal gaze nystagmus test; and the
  • Stand on one leg;

Other tests a NH police officer may use are:

  • Walk a straight line;
  • Recite the alphabet, forwards or backwards;
  • Touch your finger to your nose while keeping the eyes closed; and
  • Count backwards.

If a person falls down, refuses to participate, or otherwise fails any of these physical and cognitive tests, the law enforcement officer may ask them to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Refusing any of these tests can lead to serious penalties.

Failing Field Sobriety Tests

If you failed the NH field sobriety tests and a police officer subsequently arrested and charged you with driving while intoxicated in New Hampshire, this does not mean that you are automatically guilty and, it is definitely not the end of the road. At Tenn And Tenn, P.A., our New Hampshire DWI lawyers are certified at administering these field sobriety tests. We have a thorough understanding of the laws concerning field sobriety tests and will immediately investigate the qualifications of the arresting officer who administered the field sobriety tests. We are, in fact, fully certified to administer standard field sobriety tests ourselves, lending us the knowledge and experience to determine whether your failure of the tests were due to conditions other than impairment. Call us today at 603-624-3700 or on our toll free helpline 1-888-511-1010 for a free and confidential, telephone consultation.

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