Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr.

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Field sobriety tests vs, chemical tests

Some of those that we work with here at the Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr. come to us after having been arrested for refusing a breath test. The confusion over their cases typically lies in the differences between field sobriety and chemical tests. If you are also unclear about how these procedures differ, it may be helpful to explain what distinguishes one from the other. We'll also look at what New Jersey law requires of you regarding a sobriety evaluation.

Field sobriety tests are exercises that a law enforcement officer will have you attempt on the roadside after having stopped you for suspicion of drunk driving. They may include:

  • Walking in a straight line
  • Touching your finger to your nose
  • Checking the appearance of your eyes
  • Reciting the alphabet

While these activities may serve to confirm an officer's suspicions, they don't detail your blood-alcohol content, the actual figure that determines your level of impairment. That can only be done by testing the chemical composition of your breath, blood, or urine. These are chemical tests.

You are within your rights to refuse roadside sobriety tests. This refusal may, however, lead to your arrest. If you are arrested, the officer will typically take you to either a local hospital or police station, where a chemical test may be administered. New Jersey's "implied consent" law requires you to submit to such a test. Your unwillingness to take this test carries with it criminal penalties. The law does state, however, that law enforcement officials must explain your right to obtain the results of your test and to have your own subsequent test done, as well. He or she may also not forcibly make you take a test.

Further information on sobriety test refusals can be found on our site.

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Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr.
514 Brick Boulevard, Suite 6
Brick, NJ 08723

Toll Free: 888-415-7141
Phone: 732-965-3342
Fax: 732-477-0492
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