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Seth Okin on Mistakes in Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Test Mistakes are discussed by criminal lawyer seth Okin

The following blog is excerpted from a transcription of an interview with attorney Seth Okin in which he discusses DUI offenses in Maryland.

What does it mean for the field sobriety tests to be standardized?

Seth Okin: The standardized field sobriety tests are a set of guidelines that the federal government put in place. There are a lot of tests out there besides the three tests that people most often see. There just happen to be three that became the most popular with the officers. They have basically said these are generally accepted for law enforcement to use in traffic safety matters. They have been researched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and can be used if you’ve been charged with an allegation of driving with drugs, alcohol, or drugs and alcohol in your system. If you’ve been pulled over and the officer is looking to check your sobriety, even if you refuse to get out of the vehicle and you don’t give them a breath test, they can still put you through this clinical sobriety test.

What are common mistakes that individuals make on the field sobriety tests?

Seth Okin: The number one mistake is being rude to the officer or yelling at the officer. As hard as it may be to remember, especially if you’ve got alcohol in your system, the last person you want to be yelling at is the officer. At thatpoint, you’re going to get arrested. You’re going to go to court and you’re in a situation that can’t be beat. The first thing the officer will say about you is that you were difficult and that you yelled and cursed at him. If you get stopped and you want to take the breathalyzer, that’s fine, but the breath test in the field does not count. The one you would take back at the police station does count. With field sobriety testing, the biggest mistake is to be rude or to talk them in a less serious way. If you are rude, the officer is just waiting to write that report.

What happens if someone refuses to do the field sobriety tests?

Seth Okin: It is important to remember that DUI actually falls under two different areas when it comes to the penalties within the system. The first is area involves the penalties in criminal court when a traffic ticket sits in a criminal docket. The other area is the administrative side, because the Motor Vehicle Administration for the state of Maryland has their own set of guidelines and rules. When you go to that administrative hearing, all the MVA has to show is that there is reason to believe that there was alcohol involved. There are very low standards and, in that situation, the breath test actually can be held against you. If you have any type of alcohol content measurement, your life is going to be impacted, be it by suspension of your license or some other form. In the state of Maryland, if you refuse, you sign a DR15 form, which is read to you by an officer. Your license will be suspended for a period of time unless you get a breathalyzer system installed in your car. The state of Maryland says that if you want to continue driving your vehicle, then you need to have this in your vehicle for a year. The ignition interlock system will go in your car for one year.

Seth Okin is an aggressive criminal defense attorney who represents clients charged in Maryland. Call his Maryland law office to schedule a free consultation at (410) 782-0742.