Field Sobriety Tests and Poor Weather

Rain on windshield with police cruiser in rearview
Field sobriety tests are usually a pretext to a DUI arrest. There may have been an error in the way the arresting officer administered the test, or the test itself may be subject to attack. One thing to watch for is the external factors that could have influenced the test.

Field sobriety tests and poor weather are a bad combination, because weather plays a role in how well a driver performs a test. In Phoenix, AZ attorney James Novak examines all the factors involved in your arrest, and develops a defense that fits the specific facts of your case.

In cases with field sobriety tests and poor weather, credible arguments can be made that the test result is unreliable. If the test result is not reliable, the arrest itself is called into question.

What to Expect from a Field Sobriety Test

When a driver is pulled over and asked to take part in a field sobriety test, the officer is looking for evidence that the driver is impaired. This evidence typically comes in the form of stumbling while walking, failing to follow an object with eye movement only, or falling down while standing on one leg.

However, field sobriety tests are not an exact science and can be open to the officer’s interpretation. An attorney can challenge to the way the field sobriety test was administered.

How the Weather Impacts a Field Sobriety Test

Most field sobriety tests are not always administered in ideal conditions. Depending on the time of day and location of the traffic stop, it may be dark or poorly lit. Those conditions make it hard to see, which can lead to taking a misstep during a field test.

The weather can also play a role in how one performs in a field sobriety test. For example:

  • Rain: Whether it is a light mist or a heavier rain, precipitation makes it hard to see the road and can also cause the roadway to become slippery.
  • Wind: Excessive wind can stir up dirt and other debris, cause watery eyes, or knock a person off balance. Being able to perform a field sobriety test in windy conditions is difficult, and can lead to an end result where the officer mistakenly believes the driver is impaired.
  • Extreme Temperatures: The number on the thermostat can play a role in how well a person does in a field sobriety test, with both extreme heat and extreme cold making it hard to focus and perform the test properly.

It is always important to keep in mind that the officer making the traffic stop for a suspected DUI may already have a conclusion in mind. Any slight deviation from what is expected during a field sobriety test can lead the officer to believe the driver is impaired.

It is up to attorneys to identify factors that can have an impact on the field sobriety test. Weather conditions are one of these factors, and should not be overlooked when defending a DUI case.

Effective DUI Defense

At the Law Offices of James E. Novak, P.C. we have experience helping people fight charges of DUI. Our experience includes examining the weather, the road conditions, and other factors that play a role in the ultimate decision to make an arrest for DUI. Let us review your case and offer our advice. Contact us online or call our office at (480) 413-1499.

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