*DWI Roadblocks: Checkpoints this Weekend, Portsmouth & Seacoast Communities*

The pinnacle of  summer is here and seems to be sizzling up some "heat" in NH's Seacoast Communities. The NH State Police Troop A  with cooperation of the Portsmouth Police Department have announced TWO DWI Checkpoints over the course of the next week. According to recent numbers, the amount of alcohol related incidents resulting in fatalities and personal injury accidents is what prompted the NH State Police and Portsmouth Police Department to apply and receive approval from a Superior Court Petition to conduct these Sobriety Checkpoints. The NH Highway Safety Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (whom provide federal highway safety funds) approved the Sobriety Checkpoints to be conducted during the week of AUGUST 13th - AUGUST 19th  in Portsmouth and surrounding areas.  An article published by the Portsmouth Patch stated: "NH State Police Troop A Commander Lieutenant Gary Wood and Chief David Ferland of the Portsmouth Police Department have taken an aggressive stance to prevent persons from driving when intoxicated. New Hampshire has some of the most aggressive laws in the country to fight the intoxicated driver and the law enforcement community will use those tools to their full extent."

DWI Roadblocks

By New Hampshire DWI Lawyer Mark Stevens 1-603-893-0074

New Hampshire DUI Lawyer. RCTV's Q&A Episode 5 is hosted by Kendra Cooper, with guest attorneys Mark Stevens and Jay Milligan. They delve into discussions of the procedures and legal issues from DWI roadblocks.

The following is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA")'s manual used in police training titled "DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing" (February 2006 Edition):

Procedures for Walk and Turn Testing:

1. Instructions Stage: Initial Position and Verbal Instructions

For standardization in the performance of this test, have the suspect assume the heel-toe stance by giving the following verbal instructions, accompanied by demonstrations:
o "Place your left foot on the line" (real or imaginary). Demonstrate.
o "Place your right foot on the line ahead of the left foot, with heel of right foot against toe of left foot." Demonstrate.
o "Place your arms down by your sides." Demonstrate.
o "Maintain this position until I have completed the instructions. Do not start to walk until told to do so."
o "Do you understand the instructions so far?"

2.  Demonstrations and Instructions for the Walking Stage

Explain the test requirements using the following verbal instructions, accompanied by demonstrations:
o "When I tell you to start, take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back." (Demonstrate 3 heel-to-toe steps).
o "When you turn, keep the front foot on the line, and turn by taking a series of small steps with the other foot, like this." (Demonstrate).
o "While you are walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times, and count your steps out loud".
o "Once you start walking, don't stop until you have completed the test."
o "Do you understand the instructions?" (Make sure suspect understands.)
o "Begin, and count your first step from the heel-to-toe position as "One".

3. Test Interpretation

You may observe a number of different behaviors when a suspect performs this test...Look for the following clues each time the One Leg Stand test is administered:
A. Cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions.
B. Starts before the instructions are finished..
C. Stops while walking.
D. Does not touch heel-to-toe.
E. Steps off the line.
F. Does not touch heel-to-toe.
G. Uses arms for balance.
H. Improper turn.
I. Incorrect number of steps.

If the officer thinks you did two of these eight things wrong, however slightly, you lose. 6 out of 8 on this test, a 75% or "C" on any sort of objective test, is a failure at the roadside and you get arrested. If you can't get an "A" on this you'll be arrested.

What about the fact that you'll be doing this exercise on ice if you do it in New Hampshire this weekend? It doesn't matter according to the folks at the government who cobble these manuals together. In the same NHTSA manual, at page VIII-11 pronounces the following:

"Test Conditions"
Walk-and-Turn test requires a designated straight line, and should be conducted on a reasonably dry, hard, level, non-slippery surface. There should be sufficient room for suspects to complete nine heel-to-toe steps. Note: Recent field validation studies have indicated that varying environmental conditions have not affected a suspect's ability to perform this test"

  • Another thing to watch out for just before any "test" starts is a request by the police to "check your eyes." This sounds pretty innocuous, but it is really just a way to get you to comply with the "testing" that you cannot be forced to do. Logically, why would you want a cop to give you an eye exam in the dark? REMEMBER: YOU CANNOT BE FORCED TO SUBMIT TO THE PEN TEST OR ANY OTHER "FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS" AT THE ROADSIDE!!!!  The police will often say that they would like you to step out of your car "to check and see if you are okay to drive". Once you are asked to step out of your car the chances of you stepping back into it are slim. Think twice before you give the police any evidence to use against you!
  • PREPARATION FOR THE WORST CASE SCENARIO: Try this absurd test on your own at home and see if you can ever pass it. It may help you make a more informed decision when the cops ask you to do it at the roadside, especially in the wintertime. If you are asked to do it, it is highly likely that the officer has already decided to arrest you, and he is now in the evidence gathering stage. Choose whether to incriminate yourself very carefully.

"Motorists are forewarned that we will make every effort to apprehend drunk drivers and ask that patrons of bars and restaurants in the Seacoast make the right choice: use designated drivers, cabs or call a friend; when you drink and drive you risk your life and put others lives in danger," advised Portsmouth Police Capt. Mike Schwartz in a follow up article released by the Portsmouth Patch regarding the Sobriety Checkpoints  this upcoming week and weekend.

If you have been arrested for DWI in New Hampshire call the Law Offices of Mark Stevens today at 1-603-893-0074 for a free initial consultation. We look forward to speaking with you! Please Drive Safely & Responsibly, Attorney Stevens www.byebyedwi.com   
Attorney Mark Stevens practices in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. His practice is devoted entirely (100%) to criminal trials and appeals, with a major concentration in defending clients accused of DWI, Aggravated DWI, DUI, OUI or other allegations of drunk driving or drunk boating. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Hampshire in DurhamNew Hampshire and his Law Degree from the Massachusetts School of Law in AndoverMassachusetts.  Attorney Stevens is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He is also admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and in the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the National College of DUI Defense, the New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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