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Why dispute the validity of field sobriety test results

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2023 | Drunk Driving Defense

When a driver is investigated for driving under the influence in California, they will undoubtedly understand that the officer will conduct a series of tests. The breathalyzer test is one. In addition, some are asked to complete field sobriety tests. These differ from scientific tests making it wise to consider options to call their validity into question.

Understand field sobriety tests and why to challenge them

Field sobriety tests are generally based on the officer’s training and judgment. This leaves open the possibility to question the results, so they cannot be used as evidence of a DUI. Drivers are asked to take part in the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walk and turn test, and one-leg stand test.

All three field tests hinge on the officer’s assessment. With horizontal gaze nystagmus, for example, the officer is watching for the driver’s eyes to jerk, as they watch an object that passes in front of them. This test is open to the officer’s interpretation.

Walk and turn requires the alleged DUI driver to walk heel to toe for nine steps, turn and return to the place of origin. If the road is uneven or there is debris, this might impact the person’s ability to complete the test as requested.

The officer must also give the tests based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines. Failure to do so can sabotage the test and violate the driver’s rights. Officers sometimes ignore problems the driver might have that are not connected to intoxication. Perhaps the driver has a medical issue that hinders balance. With DUI charges, these are legitimate factors to considered.

Those who can be impacted by DUI charges

DUI charges can happen to anyone. The consequences for a conviction can be severe, and these include jail, fines and lost driving privileges. DUI charges can impact a young person who has been out for a fun evening with friends or an older person who stops for a work-related dinner. Regardless, knowing when and how to fight the evidence from field sobriety tests is highly beneficial.