This site uses cookies.

Sobriety Tests (FST) in Massachusetts

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

If you have ever been pulled over on suspicion of OUI, you know that it can be a stressful experience. Police officers, judges, and prosecutors take OUI very seriously in our state for good reason. Alcohol related car accidents cost the United states an estimated $51.1 billion in 2000, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, there were over 10 thousand people killed in alcohol impaired car crashes nationwide, and in Massachusetts, 1,370 people were killed in car accidents involving a drunk driver between 2003 and 2012.

Despite the massive media and societal awareness campaigns, harsh OUI laws, and driver education courses launched across the country, the Center for Disease Control estimates that in 2012 drunk drivers got behind the wheel of a car about 121 million times. However, these statistics are only emboldening law enforcement officials, because they represent a decline from 10 years ago. Field sobriety tests are one of the many tools being used on a regular basis to arrest and convict drunk drivers.

Field Sobriety Test Laws in Massachusetts

You, as a driver, have a few obligations in our state that you are required to fulfill by law, but the problem is that most people are confused about what those obligations are. Pursuant to Mass.Gen.Laws ch.90§24, you obligated to submit to a chemical test or analysis of your blood or breath, at the request of a police officer, to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances such narcotics. Tests that are permitted under this statute are:

  • Breathalyzer Test
  • Blood Test
  • Urinalysis

You agreed to submitting to these tests by accepting a driver’s license in the state of Massachusetts, which is why this provision in the statute is generally referred to as our state’s “implied consent” law. Anyone who is given the privilege of driving in our state accepts this agreement as a stipulation of being able to drive. Therefore, your consent is implied by being a driver. However, field sobriety tests are not required under Mass.Gen.Laws ch.90§24 nor are you required to submit to field sobriety test under any law in Massachusetts.

How do Police Officers use Field Sobriety Tests in MA?

Most people are under the false impression that they are required to perform field sobriety tests under the implied consent law, which is not true, and most police officers do not inform drivers that they can refuse a field sobriety test without penalty. Field sobriety tests are often used as evidence of a driver’s level of impairment. Moreover, the use of dash and body cameras to capture video evidence is becoming more and more common in Massachusetts.

For example, HB 3829 was passed in Massachusetts in 2015. This bill allocated $250,000 to municipalities in our state for body cameras which were to be used by police officers. So, video footage of a driver failing a field sobriety test can be a compelling piece of evidence to present to a jury, and it is often used to build a rock solid case against a driver being charged with OUI for drugs or alcohol.

Hiring an OUI Attorney in Massachusetts

If you are charged with OUI, you should give serious thought to hiring an OUI lawyer. Regardless of how well you handle yourself with the police, an OUI attorney has years of practice in OUI law. Even with minimal evidence, over ambitious state prosecutors will still try to see a case to the end. So, hiring an OUI attorney is often a valuable investment in the long run.