When you were stopped by a New Jersey police officer for a DWI investigation, it is likely that the officer asked you to perform certain field sobriety exercises or test. You were asked to get out of the car, and walk to the front or back area of the vehicle. The officer was watching how you are walking the entire time, to assess whether you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One of the things that affected how you walk was the type of shoes that you were wearing.
If your shoes had a heel 2 inches or greater, the officer is trained to ask you whether you want to remove the shoes in order to be better balanced to undergo the balance exercise. If he or she does not ask you whether you want to remove the shoes, 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 not be useful in determining whether or not you were in fact intoxicated.
However, removing shoes on a cold or gravel pavement, may also affect your ability to balance or walk.
Remember, what you are being asked to do roadside, late at night, with traffic passing by, is not something that you have normally done in the past. These are not exercises that you practice on a regular basis. Anything that makes the testing or the exercises more difficult to perform, reduces the reliability of the exercises according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The officer is also supposed to ask you whether you have any physical injuries that would affect your ability to do the exercises. This is for two reasons. First, if you have an injury, the testing should not put you in risk of further injuring yourself. Second, there is no way to tell whether the results of the testing has more to do with your injury, or what the officer may assess to be alleged intoxication.
The field sobriety exercises are supposed to be tools for the officer to assess whether you may be under the influence of alcohol. The testing has been validated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for these purposes. They have not been validated to assess drug intoxication. They are also not measurement of intoxication. They are supposed to be used for assessing probable cause to arrest.
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.
All of the lawyers at Levow & Associates have been trained in the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing protocol. We understand the exercises better than the officers who administered them to you. As a result, we use that information to help defend your case. Please call us for a free consultation regarding your matter.