The Inaccuracy of Field Sobriety Tests

Police officers only have a few tools with which to assess a potential intoxicated driver during an investigation, as they are bound to respect the rights of the citizens they are investigating. The most commonly used means of investigation are a battery of field sobriety tests meant to help the officer evaluate potential impairment on the part of the motorist.

These tests are hardly conclusive however, and should never be construed as definitive proof that drunk driving took place. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has only officially standardized three of these tests for regular use in evaluating the sobriety of individuals, and even these rests are recognized as only accurately identifying an intoxicated person 70% of the time.

Why Sobriety Tests May Fail

A field sobriety test relies on the assumption that the subject is a perfectly normal and otherwise healthy individual with no impairments whatsoever. This means that any number of irregularities or special conditions will skew the test towards a positive identification, when this may not be appropriate. Some of the conditions which can contribute to a false positive are the following:

  • A physical handicap
  • Inner ear conditions which affect equilibrium
  • A language or speech impediment
  • Sickness

You are never required to submit to a field sobriety test, but be aware that refusal to do so will likely result in your arrest under suspicion of driving while intoxicated. If you believe that a field sobriety test will unjustly identify you as intoxicated, this may still be the best course of action.

Contact Us

If you are facing DUI charges that are based on the strength of field sobriety test results, a skilled attorney may be able to have your case dismissed or the charges reduced. Call the experienced Champaign DUI attorneys at Bruno Law Offices today at (217) 328-6000 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.