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Why can standardized field sobriety tests be inaccurate?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2023 | DUI Charges |

Imagine that you were pulled over by the police while driving. The police suspect that you were drunk driving because your vehicle may have been swerving between lanes, you ran a red light or you were witnessed leaving a bar. As a result, the police are conducting an investigation to determine if their suspicion is correct. 

One way the police can determine if a driver is drunk is by conducting a standardized field sobriety test. However, these tests can result in inaccurate judgments. Why does that happen? You may first want to learn what a standardized field sobriety test is. Here’s what you should know:

What are standardized field sobriety tests?

A standardized field sobriety test is a sanctioned test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These tests are administered by the police to help them make informed decisions when assessing the sobriety of a driver.

There are three tests that the police may conduct: a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a walk-and-turn test and a one-legged stand test. These tests focus on evaluating a driver’s focus, balance and muscle control. Any other test would be considered non-standard, such as walking in a circle while counting by multiples of three.

Why would a standardized field sobriety test be wrong?

Unfortunately, field sobriety tests may not account for people with disabilities. A disability may impair someone in a way that makes them seem inebriated. For example, someone with an eye disease would likely fail a gaze test and someone with a limp wouldn’t likely pass a walk-and-turn test. 

As a result of misjudgment, many people are charged for simple mistakes and medical conditions that aren’t in their control. If this happens to you, you may need to learn your options for criminal defense.