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Field sobriety tests aren’t always accurate

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2022 | Dwi Defense |

When an officer pulls over someone under the suspicion of drunk driving, they may ask the driver to take a breath test. If their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal driving limit, then they may be charged with driving while impaired (DWI). A DWI can severely impact a driver’s record, cost hundreds or thousands of fines and lead to incarceration.

Alternatively, officers may conduct field sobriety tests. These tests ask drivers to step outside their vehicle and perform movements that might indicate to an officer that the driver is impaired. However, field sobriety tests often don’t have science backing the results and may be misjudged.

Here’s what you should know:

DWI convictions without evidence

Field sobriety tests are used to reveal certain qualities someone, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, may possess. However, field sobriety tests are judged by essentially an officer’s gut feeling. In other words, there may be other factors that affect a police officer’s judgment.

There are a few common field sobriety tests law enforcement may conduct and examples of how these tests may reveal false assumptions:

  • One-legged stand test: This test evaluates a person’s balance by asking them to stand on one leg. If a person isn’t able to stay on one leg, falls or can’t perform the test altogether, they may be charged with a DWI. People with preexisting balance issues or leg injuries may not pass the test while sober.
  • Walk and turn test: This test requires a person to walk in a straight line, turn and walk back. A DWI charge may be given if someone can’t stay on the line. This test may be hard to pass if someone has a walking disability.
  • Nystagmus test: In this test, an officer will ask the driver to follow a single point with their eyes. Someone with eye issues (lazy eye, vision impairment or cataracts) may struggle with this test.

Because many factors prevent someone from passing a field sobriety test, there may be wrongly issued charges against a driver. You may need to reach out for legal help if you’re wanting to know your options.