Field sobriety tests may not accurately indicate intoxication

On Behalf of | May 19, 2021 | DUI |

Drunk driving charges can have a significant impact on the life of a Mississippi resident. Often their legal ordeals begin when they are stopped on suspicion of driving with alcohol in their system. When a law enforcement officer makes a drunk driving stop, they may subject the individual to field sobriety assessments to determine if they are intoxicated.

Field sobriety tests are a tool that can sometimes be flawed in their execution and interpretation. This post will discuss how the reliability and accuracy of field sobriety tests may be questioned by those whose drunk driving arrests were based on them. This post does not offer any legal advice and readers with questions about drunk driving charges should direct them to attorneys with criminal defense practices.

What are field sobriety tests?

Field sobriety tests are assessments done “in the field,” or on the road during drunk driving stops. They involve physical tests that require individuals to use balance, coordination, and focus to complete them. The idea behind field sobriety tests is that drunk individuals will not be able to perform them successfully, which may give arresting officers evidence of intoxication on which to base their actions.

There are different kinds of field sobriety tests. One common test is the one leg stand. It requires a driver to lift one foot off the ground and hold their balance without tipping over. Another is the walk and turn test, which requires a driver to walk in a straight line and return to their starting point without veering off course. Other tests exist and may be imposed on drivers suspected of drunk driving.

How can field sobriety tests go wrong?

Field sobriety tests are intended to catch drunk drivers, but sometimes they catch sober drivers as well. A driver who has mobility issues may struggle to successfully balance or walk during testing, which may yield a result of intoxication based on the law enforcement official’s assessment. Similarly, a law enforcement officer who is not trained to evaluate field sobriety tests may make errors in their assessments that result in wrongful arrests.

Field sobriety tests are not always right. They can yield problematic results and wrongful arrests for sober drivers. Criminal defense lawyers can help men and women who have been wrongfully identified as drunk drivers under the law.