About the Hand Pat Field Sobriety Test
Summary: The hand pat field sobriety test is one of many tests that a police officer may administer if he or she suspects that you are driving while intoxicated or impaired. If you fail the test or feel that it was not performed correctly, it is important for you to seek legal counsel from a DUI lawyer and understand your rights.
When a police officer pulls you over for a suspected DUI or DWI charge, you may be asked to provide identification, your car insurance and registration. The police officer has the right to ask you to exit your car and perform one or more field sobriety tests. These are tests designed to assess your coordination, response time and level of alertness. You may be asked to do the hand pat test. It is important to understand the test, its role in DWI charges and your rights and responsibilities if you fail the test.
How the Hand Pat Field Sobriety Test Works
The hand pat field sobriety test is a measure of your motor coordination, information processing, reaction time, vision and decision-making skills. If a police officer pulls you over and has reason to suspect that you are driving under the influence of substances that could affect your ability to drive, the hand pat test is one way of assessing you in the field.
How to Complete the Hand Pat Field Sobriety Test
To complete the test, you will be asked to extend one arm. The palm of your hand should face up and out. Extend your second arm and place the palm of the hand on top of your first hand. Rotate your top hand 180 degrees in order to pat your bottom hand. Count “one.” Rotate your hand up and touch the top palm to the bottom palm. Count “two.” Repeat this until told to stop.
What Happens If You Fail the Hand Pat Field Sobriety Test
If you fail one or more of the field sobriety tests or you have a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08 and you’re over the age of 21, you may be arrested and charged with DWI or DUI. There are two ways that you can be charged with DWI in New Jersey. The first is with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. If you are under the age of 21, a zero-tolerance policy is in effect for blood alcohol content. The second part of the law is per se. This means that if you cannot operate a vehicle with the same caution and safety as a sober driver, you may be charged with DWI. Impairment or intoxication could result from use of alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter medication or illegal drugs.
New Jersey is an implied consent state. Getting a state driver’s license means that you agree to certain tests if stopped by the police. If you refuse a field sobriety test, you may be asked to take a blood or breath test. While you can refuse the field sobriety tests, you cannot legally refuse a chemical test.
Penalties for a DWI in New Jersey
If an officer deems you legally intoxicated based on field sobriety tests, chemical tests or other factors, the penalties that you may face will vary based on whether it is a first, second or subsequent offense. Penalties are also impacted by your blood alcohol content and whether or not there was a minor in the car with you. At a minimum, the penalties include:
- A fine of $250 or more
- Imprisonment of 30 days or longer
- Suspension or loss of your driver’s license
- $1,000 surcharge on auto insurance for three years
- Mandatory attendance at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
The hand pat field sobriety test is not one of the field sobriety tests sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There are no standardized guidelines on how police officers should conduct it. DUI lawyer Denis Driscoll offers consultations to people who were pulled over or charged with a DUI/DWI and related offenses. If you have experienced a hand pat field sobriety test and failed it, you may want legal counsel. To learn more about your rights during a hand pat field sobriety test, contact DWI attorney Denis Driscoll today.