Glenn R. Bruno, Esq.
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Working Hard to Protect Your Rights As a Poughkeepsie criminal defense attorney, I have been serving the people of the Hudson Valley for more than 20 years through diligent, assertive and quality criminal defense. I am prepared to put my experience to work for you.

Tiger Woods and the field sobriety test

In New York and throughout the country, law enforcement is increasingly using police body cams and dashboard cameras. Whether it's at the station or during a traffic stop, police often record suspects taking field sobriety tests.

The recently released dashboard camera footage of golfer Tiger Woods' Florida arrest gives the public a glimpse of what occurs in a field sobriety test. This type of test is common in New York. The results of the test are used to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to administer a blood alcohol test, which may be gathered through a Breathalyzer or blood test.

The field sobriety test normally conducted in New York consists of several parts. The officer may first administer an eye test, called the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. It checks for an involuntary twitch in the eye when the person looks sideways that is exaggerated by alcohol impairment.

A police officer may ask a driver to stand on one foot for a full 30 seconds, which will measure his or her coordination. The heel-to-toe test requires the subject to walk in a straight line heel to toe and then turn and walk back to the officer in the same manner.

In the Woods' arrest, subsequent testing showed no alcohol in his system, but he admitted taking several prescription medications. The field test footage may still be used as evidence against him to demonstrate that he was under the influence of narcotics. There is no statutory threshold for driving while impaired by drugs in New York. Thus, the field sobriety test becomes crucial to the prosecution's case.

An attorney who is experienced with DWI law is familiar with the types of sobriety tests in New York and how each one must be administered. A lawyer can review the evidence of the test, including any camera footage, to prepare challenges to the veracity of the results. Sometimes a lack of camera footage may be used to question the officer's evidence, especially if video recording is standard operating procedure for that department.

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