Your commercial driver’s license (CDL) is important to you, so you zealously respect the rules of the road — and the rules that control your license. You would never drink and drive or use drugs while driving.
Just the same, too many hours on the road one night made you groggy, and you made some technical errors that caught the eye of a law enforcement officer. Because your eyes were red and you were tired, the officer thought you’d been drinking or were drugged.
You truthfully swore that you weren’t. The officer asked you to perform some roadside sobriety tests anyhow — and you flunked them.
How can that be? Easy. Roadside sobriety tests are far easier to fail than most people realize. Even police officers don’t seem to understand that they’re not always useful in detecting impaired drivers. Here’s why:
1. They test your ability to balance
There are three standardized field sobriety tests, and all of them check your balance in some way. From the perspective of the authorities, that makes sense. Almost everything that can impair someone’s ability to function normally will affect their balance in some way.
The problem is that there are dozens (or more) of other conditions that can also affect your balance. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, for example, just asks you to follow a penlight with your eyes. If your eyes jerk uncontrollably as you do it, that’s a sign that your balance is off, and you’re impaired. It could also, however, be a sign that you’re really sleepy, have an inner ear infection, suffer from Meniere’s Disease or another problem.
2. They’re incredibly stressful
Those tests were designed under controlled conditions. There’s nothing “controlled” about being asked to stand on one foot or walk a line toe-to-toe at the side of the road. Both drivers and officers can be affected by the rush of traffic, the weather and other conditions around them.
If you flunked a field sobriety test and your CDL is in danger, get experienced legal assistance today.