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Are field sobriety tests accurate, and can you defend against them?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2022 | Criminal Defense

It’s a possibility that you could be asked to perform field sobriety tests if you are pulled over under suspicion of a DUI. Field sobriety tests are helpful to officers because they help identify if a person is able to follow directions or perform basic tests, like walking or turning, without problems.

The big issue with these tests is that they are not necessarily accurate. It’s possible for someone to fail field sobriety tests even when they’re sober.

What makes field sobriety tests so bad?

The issue with field sobriety tests is that they aren’t accurate all the time. The three main tests, which include a walk-and-turn test, one that looks at the horizontal gaze nystagmus and another that has you stand on one leg, can be failed by sober people. Together, they are more accurate than not, but that doesn’t mean that some people aren’t falsely accused of DUIs because of them.

Think about it this way. If you have a neurological condition that affects your vision, you could fail the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, because your eyes may jerk around more than someone else’s. Similarly, you may be unable to balance well if you are dealing with vertigo or a physical problem with your legs or spine.

What can you do to challenge field sobriety tests?

If you are in a situation where you’re charged with a DUI based on the results of your field sobriety tests, you have an opportunity to defend yourself. For instance, you may show documentation that states that you have certain physical disabilities that make it hard to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line. You might show that you have a seizure disorder or other condition that led to symptoms that resulted in the failure of a test, too.

It’s important to realize that you can fight back against charges. Field sobriety tests are used to boost the likelihood of a DUI sticking, but there is no guarantee that they’re 100% accurate. The right support could help you show that you were not impaired and help you get the charges lowered or dropped.