When faced with an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI), one of the more common pieces of evidence that may be used against you are field sobriety tests. These typically involve officers gauging reactions of the eyes and how suspects perform in one-leg stands and walk-and-turns.
Crucially, the results of the tests will be subjective rather than based on science. In other words, they are dependent on the observations of arresting officers. As a result, many people (rightly) feel the results of their tests are unfair.
Some research also suggests that field sobriety tests contain significant flaws. Therefore, it is important to consider whether such tests — and their basis as a reason for probable cause — can be challenged.
What are the common flaws with field sobriety tests?
Field sobriety tests generally do not take into account the physical condition of the participant. For example, certain disabilities or physical illnesses could result in a person displaying signs that make the officer mistakenly think they are drunk. Furthermore, certain medications have side effects which may impact your performance in a roadside test.
Field sobriety tests don’t account for your mental state
Being pulled over and told you are under suspicion of a criminal offense can be extremely stressful. Anxiety and emotional trauma can lead to behaviors that may mistakenly result in an officer thinking you are under the influence.
Roadside conditions can impact performance
Another potential flaw with field sobriety tests is that they do not take into account the conditions of the road surface. An unstable surface or ground that is not level can lead to unsatisfactory performances by people who struggle to keep their balance.
It is important to note that the results of field sobriety tests can be challenged. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, you should understand that you have legal rights and protections.