A Proven Criminal Defense Team

How credible are field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2020 | Blood Alcohol Tests |

For years, law enforcement has considered the results of breathalyzer tests and field sobriety tests to be irrefutable proof that a person was driving under the influence. However, recent studies have called into question the reliability of breathalyzer results. People are also taking a closer look at the credibility of field sobriety tests.

Typical field sobriety tests

For decades, law enforcement professionals have used field sobriety testing to help strengthen drunk driving cases. The three commonly accepted and deployed tests are:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
  • Walk and turn test
  • One leg stand test

You may sometimes hear of officers using additional tests, such as asking people to recite the alphabet backwards. Any tests other than the ones listed above are generally unreliable and will do little to strengthen an officer’s case.

You are under no obligation to submit to field sobriety testing. You won’t face any additional penalties for refusing to perform a field sobriety test. However, refusal will likely result in your being arrested.

People fail these tests for several reasons

Evidence is mounting that people may fail field sobriety tests for reasons other than alcohol intoxication. Some reasons why people fail to adequately perform these tests include:

  • The stress and anxiety that accompanies a police encounter
  • Physical or mental conditions which impair your ability to perform these tasks
  • Being asked to perform a test on uneven ground or pavement

Ultimately, field sobriety tests primarily benefit the state. If a failed test is being used as evidence against you, you can challenge the credibility of these testing procedures. A skilled legal professional can help you explore all of your potential defense options.