Reasons for Inaccurate Field Sobriety Test Results

A woman undergoing a field sobriety test
If you were wrongly arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), we may question the validity of the field sobriety test (FST) results. There are a number of reasons for inaccurate field sobriety test results. Attorney James Novak in Phoenix, AZ, understands how FSTs work (and do not work), and can factor that into your defense if needed. If you were arrested for a DUI, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. A DUI defense attorney can review the evidence in your case to determine if your charges can be reduced or dismissed altogether.

To learn more about the reasons for inaccurate field sobriety test results, read on.

Officer Subjectivity

Nearly every aspect of a DUI is subjective. The officer must determine what he or she believes is probable cause to pull you over in the first place. Then, the officer may request a FST. The officer is then the sole judge as to how well you perform this test.

In a study at Clemson University, researchers found that police officers are wrong nearly 50 percent of the time when judging a FST, even when the suspects are completely sober. This means if you get pulled over and you have not had a drink all night, if the officer requests a FST, there is about a 50/50 chance you could still fail the test.

The Tests Themselves

Field sobriety tests have not changed much in the last 30 years. Most research indicates that FSTs actually lead police officers to over-estimate a suspect’s BAC rather than under-estimate. These tests allow an officer to check for balance and coordination, as well as your cognitive abilities. Most people struggle with FSTs, especially when under the pressure of a potential DUI, even if they are completely innocent.

Medical Conditions and Other Variables

Medical conditions are one of the top reasons a person might fail a FST. Conditions that affect balance and coordination, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and others, could make a person appear intoxicated. Temporary illnesses such as an inner ear infection can also affect balance. Certain medications could also play a role in the ability to pass a FST.

In many cases, the only way to prove someone with a medical condition is not intoxicated is to take a breathalyzer or blood test. Unfortunately, certain medications can also affect your BAC.

Using an Inaccurate FST in Your DUI Defense

If you failed a FST and subsequently failed a breathalyzer or blood test even though you were sober, Attorney James Novak may be able to help. He can help you provide medical reports regarding a medical condition, or any further evidence to prove you were not intoxicated at the time of the FST. The sooner you contact James Novak for assistance with your case, the better chance he will have at assembling a strong defense for your case.

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