Police Evidence

Field Sobriety Test, PBT, Blood & Breath Tests

Evidence that is gathered and would be presented in a drunk driving case in a New Hampshire court generally falls into five categories. The first of these consists of driving symptoms – or observed driving patterns. Unless an accident is involved, this is usually what first attracts the police officer's attention and, typically, may involve weaving, lane straddling, or erratic driving. There are, in fact, approximately 20 different driving clues recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which can be possible indicators of impairment.

The second type of evidence involves personal behavior and appearance. These evidence examples are observed once the vehicle is pulled over. This may include an odor of alcohol on the breath, bloodshot eyes, thick and/or slurred speech, flushed face, unsteady gait, difficulty following directions, etc. Some of these -- odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech -- are encountered so often that some officers, trained to expect them, will include them in their arrest reports even if they are not actually present.

The third type of DWI/DUI evidence consists of the field sobriety tests. These may include walk-and-turn, touch-the-nose, one-leg-stand, modified position of attention (also called the Rhomberg test), alphabet recitation, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test, among others. Three of these (walk-and-turn, one-leg-stand, and nystagmus – often referred to as “dancing eyes,” (as it is an involuntary movement of the eye and may be a result of drinking or drugs) have become the "standardized" battery of these tests. In New Hampshire, however, officers continue to administer whichever tests they choose. Contrary to popular belief, the tests are not compulsory and you may refuse to take them.

Many police agencies also are using a roadside breath-testing device (Breathalyzer) as an additional field sobriety test. Called the Preliminary Breath Test or "PBT" units, these hand held devices are supposed to give an indication of your blood-alcohol concentration. These PBTs are relatively unsophisticated and often unreliable. PBTs are supposed to be used only to aid the officer in making a decision after he has given the other field sobriety tests. Unfortunately, however, many judges are permitting the results into evidence at trial.

The fourth category of evidence consists of incriminating statements, whether made spontaneously or in response to questioning. Since Miranda warnings need not be given right away, the officer is free to ask incriminating questions during his initial investigation. A refusal to submit to chemical testing may be interpreted as an incriminating statement.

The fifth type of DWI/DUI evidence is the chemical test. In New Hampshire, this involves a choice of breath or blood. There are a number of different brands of breath machines used in New Hampshire, but all are susceptible to numerous problems. Blood analysis is considerably more accurate, although possible problems exist there as well, such as fermentation of the sample, coagulation and lack of sterilization.

The experienced New Hampshire DWI attorneys at Tenn And Tenn, PA regularly handle DWI/DUI cases and are skilled at challenging the various types of "evidence" offered by the police. If you have been charged with DWI/DUI in New Hampshire, contact the Nh DUI lawyers at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. today for a free telephone consultation.

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