Accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests
To understand how the results of field sobriety tests may impact your case, you should discuss your circumstances with a lawyer. Some general information may also help you understand how these tests work.
Overview of Field Sobriety TestsField sobriety tests (FSTs) are a series of exercises that police may request you to perform if they pull you over on suspicion of drunk driving. Your ability to properly execute an FST is a factor that officers may consider in determining whether you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has designated three standardized test that are commonly used by law enforcement:
1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, which measures your eye movement;
2. Walk and Turn, a test of your physical ability to walk without stumbling; and,
3. One-Leg Stand, which tests your balance.
Failure to perform these tests to the satisfaction of police may lead to an arrest for DUI; plus, the results can be used in court.
Factors That Impact Accurate ResultsWhile officials rely heavily on FSTs to determine if you're driving under the influence, they're not always accurate. For instance, the NHTSA has established certain test conditions that officers must follow, including:
Conducting FSTs on a safe, dry, level surface;
Ensuring proper lighting at the scene; and,
Avoiding excess noise that might interfere with test instructions.
However, there are other factors that impact accuracy on FSTs, such as:
Any physical disability or impairment you may possess;
Officer movement or walking around you while you perform tests;
Environmental and weather conditions; and,
Constricting or unsuitable attire that prevents free movement.