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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

Field sobriety tests are not always reliable

On Behalf of | May 10, 2019 | Drunk Driving |

If a police officer stops you under reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, he or she may request for you to partake in a field sobriety test. The police use these tests to establish enough evidence of impairment to arrest you. But the results of field sobriety tests are not always reliable. The officer may claim confidence in conducting these tests, but that does not necessarily mean they are accurate. 

The accuracy of these DUI tests comes into question because of flaws in the tests, how physical and mental conditions may impact your performance, and failure of the officer to administer the tests properly. Here are some reasons why you may be able to challenge the validity of field sobriety tests.

Physical and mental conditions

A variety of conditions can impact the reliability of these tests, including the following:

  • Vision problems
  • Injuries
  • Disabilities
  • Diseases
  • Illnesses
  • Old age
  • Obesity
  • Inner ear infections
  • Movement disorders

Any of these conditions may cause you to “fail” these tests, but that does not necessarily equate to you being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Bad testing area

An officer should administer a field sobriety test in the proper environment. One of the most common tests is the “walk-and-turn,” which requires you to walk straight, turn on one foot and walk back. In order for the results of this test to be accurate, the testing area must be flat. If there is a slope, pothole or another issue where you walk, you may be able to defend against your DUI charges. 

Complex and hurried instructions 

Getting pulled over by a cop is a stressful experience, whether you are legally drunk or not. This anxiety can cause you to falter and not perform your best. If the officer gives complicated instructions in a quick manner, it can be hard for you to process and perform to the best of your ability.

It is smart to have an experienced criminal defense attorney review the facts of your DUI arrest. It may be possible to have the charge dismissed or reduced.