Field Sobriety Tests: How They Can Hurt Your DUI Case

When an officer pulls over a driver on suspicion of DUI, they may ask the driver to step out of their vehicle and perform a series of tests. These tests, which have been designed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), were designed to provide officers with evidence of a person’s alleged level of intoxication. However, the truth of the matter is that these tests set the driver up for failure no matter what. And because they are not backed by science, they have not been proven reliable. Furthermore, any deviation from how the tests are written and approved by the NHTSA means that the results may not even be valid at all.

These Standardized Field Sobriety Tests may include:

  • Walk and turn test: The suspect is asked to take nine heel-to-toe steps forward, turn around, and walk nine heel-to-toe steps back. The officer will watch to see if the suspect takes too many or too few steps, uses their arms for balance, stumbles, sways, or turns with difficulty. This test is often difficult even for sober people, especially in a high-stress situation on the side of the road with a police officer.
  • One leg stand test: During this test, the suspect is required to stand on one leg with his hands down and count to 30. Again, the officer will look for swaying, raising the hands for balance, and for the suspect’s ability to count accurately. This test can be extremely difficult for people with back or knee problems, inner ear disorders affecting balance, ankle problems, and more.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: The officer will hold a pen or another object before the suspect’s eyes to see if the eyes can follow its movement. The officer looks for a jerking motion of the eyes when the object is held at a 45-degree angle, which indicates intoxication. Unless the prosecutor has an expert witness to testify to the scientific validity of this test, the results cannot be used in court.

Consenting to take these tests can severely harm your DUI case, especially since they are so easy for even sober people to fail. You should be aware that you have a right to refuse these tests without penalty – exercise it accordingly!

If you have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, it is important to immediately get in touch with an experienced DUI attorney. You attorney can examine the facts of your case, including any pre-existing conditions that you have that may have affected the outcome of your sobriety test.

Don’t allow the results of a scientifically unreliable test to determine your future. At L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC, our Dayton DUI attorneys are prepared to review your case and challenge the results of your field sobriety or chemical tests. With harsh penalties on the line, do not delay in getting the help you need to potentially beat your charges.

We’re available 24/7 when you call (937) 685-7006.