Are Field Sobriety Tests Unreliable?

When a police officer pulls over a suspected drunk driver, the officer will usually administer a standardized field sobriety test. Although a field sobriety test may seem useful, it can be tough to pass, even when someone is not under the influence. Many people who have been arrested for drunk driving, despite passing breathalyzer tests, work with lawyers to try to show the courts that field sobriety tests are flawed, misleading, and biased.

Different Elements of Field Sobriety Tests

In New Jersey, police officers can ask motorists to perform three different tests, including:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The first field sobriety test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. During the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the driver is asked to follow the movements of an object, like a pen, that is slowly waved back and forth and up and down in front of the eyes.

Walk-and-Turn Test: The second test is the walk-and-turn test. The walk-and-turn test involves keeping the feet pointed forward and walking heel-toe, pivoting, and walking back the same way. Normally, a motorist is asked to count each step aloud while walking.

Balance Test: The final test involves standing on one leg for several seconds. The officer tells the driver when to put the other leg down.

What are the Problems with Field Sobriety Tests?

A field sobriety test can seem like an appropriate method to determine whether or not someone is fit for operating a motor vehicle. However, field sobriety tests are deceptively difficult and subjective.

A field sobriety test is frequently performed on the side of the road, potentially on uneven ground and with traffic, which could be a distraction. Weather may also be a factor in field sobriety tests.

Also, field sobriety tests do not account for age or medical attentions. For instance, the walk-and-turn test can be hard for an older driver or an individual with knee or hip problems. Similarly, standing on one leg may be impossible for someone with vertigo or another balance-related condition.

Additionally, field sobriety tests rely on the ability of the police officer to make a solid determination, which leads to human error.

Can Drivers Refuse Field Sobriety Tests?

Many drivers wonder if they can refuse to undergo field sobriety tests. A motorist can refuse a field sobriety test, but they will likely be arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) After the arrest, the driver will be brought to the nearest police station and given a breathalyzer.

The breathalyzer test will give the driver’s BAC (blood alcohol content) level. However, even if the BAC level is below acceptable limits, the police officer may still decide to continue with the arrest at the officer’s discretion. Likewise, if the motorist failed a field sobriety test but passed a breathalyzer test, the driver can still be arrested under state DUI laws.

When Should I Call a Lawyer?

A driver who is facing a DUI/DWI charge should contact a lawyer. A lawyer can fight the charge and help their client with this very serious traffic violation. Without a lawyer, a driver may end up paying fines, losing driving privileges, or potentially serve jail time.

Haddonfield DUI Lawyers at Agre & St. John Offer Assistance to Clients Wrongly Accused of Impaired Driving

Field sobriety tests can be flawed, leading to unfair charges. If you are facing a DUI/DWI charge, we can help you. Our Haddonfield DUI lawyers at Agre & St. John protect drivers against serious traffic violations. Contact us online or call us at 856-428-7797 for an initial consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.

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