Groups » Field Sobriety Tests – Can These Be Challenged?

A police officer might ask you to take field sobriety tests if he/she thinks you have been drunk and driving. To begin with, these tests are not mandatory. You have full rights to skip these. However, there’s a ramification attached to it. If you refuse to take the field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests, your license gets revoked. The problem with taking the tests is that these might be used against you in the court. Most people have this question, are these tests reliable and can these be challenged? Before we answer these questions, we need to understand what exactly is included in a field sobriety test (FST).

 One – leg stand – This test comprises of two stages. First you have to listen to the instructions and remember them. You are provided an instruction sheet as well. Next, you have to stand on one leg and the officer is supposed to time this test. If you put your leg down more than two times, there are chances your BAC level is higher than 0.10.

 Walk and turn – Here you are supposed to walk heel to toe nine steps and that too in a straight line. You will have to turn on a single foot and walk back similarly. In this test, the officer mainly looks out whether you are following the instructions, using arms to balance, stopping while walking, losing balance on turns or taking wrong steps.

 Horizontal gaze nystagmus – Nystagmus literally means involuntary jerking of the eyes. This test is considered to be one of the most reliable field sobriety tests. If you are impaired, your eyes will jerk as they move side to side. The officer is supposed to check both your eyes and ideally begins with the left eye.

These tests can be challenged. To start with, there might be flaws in the test. For instance, research has shown that the tests are reliable about 81 % to 91% in determining whether one is drunk. One can challenge one-leg stand because the test depends on the surface, shoes one is wearing and whether a person has some leg injuries. For instance, if the test was done on an icy surface, the results might not be accurate. People having pigeon-toe problems encounter difficulty in undertaking walk and turn test.

Talking about the third test, Nystagmus or jerking of the eyes is also caused by pathological disorders such as brain tumors and neurological disorders too. People having certain types of ear infection or condition find it difficult to take FST even if they are not intoxicated. Besides considering your medical condition, the officer also has to take into consideration your age and weight. For instance, overweight people find it difficult to take the one-leg stand test. Similarly people above 65 years also encounter specific difficulties in taking these tests. The best thing to do is hire a reputed criminal defense attorney in Denver if that’s where you took the tests. A professional lawyer helps create a solid defense and knows how to challenge these tests in court.

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