Disputing a field sobriety test can be a critical component of disputing drunk driving charges. Because drunk driving charges can carry a high price professionally and personally, and potentially impact the accused driver’s freedom, it is important to be familiar with the different ways to challenge DUI charges and disputing a field sobriety test is one of them.
Disputing field sobriety tests
Field sobriety tests may be disputed on the basis that:
- The field sobriety test is flawed – there are generally three types of field sobriety tests including the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn test and the one-leg stand test. Some studies show that even if the field sobriety test is performed properly, the tests are only 81% to 91% reliable and determining intoxication. On that basis, the accused driver may be able to challenge the field sobriety test as flawed.
- The administering officer did not perform the test correctly – to be considered reliable, a field sobriety test must be administered properly. Guidelines are set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for administering field sobriety tests. This requires that the police officer administering the test has the appropriate training to do so and that they follow that training when administering a field sobriety test. If the police officer uses non-standard tests, they may also not be considered reliable.
- The administering officer did not take into account the driver’s condition – some accused drivers can have a medical or psychological condition that will impact the test results in a way that is negative for the driver. If the driver has an inner ear infection or condition, neurological injury or skeletal or movement disorders it needs to be taken into account and if the police officer does not do so, it may call the test results into question.
In addition to challenging field sobriety tests, there are other ways to challenge drunk driving charges. Accused drivers should be familiar with all of them so they can determine which is the best criminal defense option for them when facing the seriousness of DUI charges.