A Falmouth man was arrested over the weekend and charged with his 4th Massachusetts Drunk Driving Offense. He was charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, 4th Subsequent Offense and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle.
According to the Falmouth Police Department, the man was pulled over by police after the man’s car was veering over the center line and allegedly almost hit a police cruiser. After being pulled over, the man denied having drank any alcohol, but the police officer allegedly observed slurred speech, glassy eyes, and an odor of alcohol coming from the man’s breath.
The Falmouth Police officer reportedly gave the man two Field Sobriety Tests. One of the tests was the Walk and Turn Test, which is only 68% accurate according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. He was also asked to count backwards from 100, which is technically not even a recognized Field Sobriety Test.
The man exercised his Constitutional right and refused to submit to a Breathalyzer Test. Under Massachusetts DUI Laws, if you have 3 or more prior OUI charges and refuse a breathalyzer, you could face a lifetime suspension of your driver’s license.
The Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test asks the person to take 9 steps, heel to toe, turn, and then take 9 steps back. In the 9 Step Walk and Turn Test, police officers are looking for a number of different behaviors that they would argue would be observed in someone with a blood alcohol content over 0.10%. Those behaviors that the police are looking for include:
- Unable to keep balance;
- Whether the person starts before the instructions are completed;
- The person stops while walking;
- Fails to touch heel to toe;
- Steps off the line;
- Uses his arms to keep his balance;
- Does not turn properly; or
- Takes the incorrect number of steps.
In ideal conditions, the Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test should be performed in a straight line, on a reasonably dry, hard, and level, non-slippery surface. In reality, however, it’s rarely possible for this test to be performed in ideal conditions. Often times, when someone is pulled over for suspected DUI / OUI and asked to perform field sobriety tests, it is done at the side of the road where there may may not be a straight line to walk on; there may be a great deal of debris; the lighting conditions may not be good; and if on a highway, the danger of getting struck by passing cars traveling at high speeds.
So, take it with a grain of salt when you hear that someone failed a Field Sobriety Test, because in reality, they’re not all that accurate and most police officers, if they were to take the test sober, would also fail it.
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