Field sobriety tests are typically designed to give police officers an idea of whether or not a driver is impaired. Unfortunately, these tests are far from perfect. In fact, there are a number of factors that can contribute to wrong results.
Improper test administration
A police officer must follow specific instructions when administering a field sobriety test. These include ensuring that the test is given in a level and well-lit area and that the driver has adequate time to understand the instructions. If any of these requirements are not met, it can invalidate the results of the test. On top of that, officers often fail to properly administer the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test, all of which are essential components of a DUI investigation.
There are a number of physical factors that can affect the results of a field sobriety test, even if it is properly administered, like weight, age, injuries and shoes. For instance, older drivers or those who are overweight may have difficulty completing the one-leg stand test. And, if a driver has an injury that affects their balance, it could impact their ability to do the walk-and-turn test correctly. Even something as simple as wearing high heels can make it difficult to complete the heel-to-toe portion of the walk-and-turn test.
It’s common for drivers to be nervous when they’re pulled over by the police, which can affect their performance on field sobriety tests. Often, officers will attribute a driver’s poor performance to intoxication when, in reality, it was just nerves.
Faulty improperly calibrated machines
In some DUI cases, the results of a breathalyzer test or other chemical test may get challenged because the machine was not properly calibrated or wasn’t working correctly, potentially giving a false positive. To determine whether or not a machine was properly calibrated, your attorney may often request maintenance and calibration records.
If you have been charged with DUI, you may have your charges reduced or even dismissed if you can show that the field sobriety tests were not properly administered or that there were other factors that affected your performance. Just remember to understand the specifics of your DUI case so that you can build the best defense possible.