Field sobriety testing is often done when an officer pulls an individual over and suspects him or her of drinking and driving. There are typically three standardized tests — the walk and turn test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the one-leg stand test. It’s important to understand what these tests are, why they are highly inaccurate, and how to defend yourself against the results in court.

The Walk and Turn Test

During this test, the officer will typically ask you to walk on a straight line for nine steps, touching heel to toe. Then, you will be asked to turn on one foot and walk back nine steps in the same manner. The officer is looking for your inability to follow directions, poor balance and coordination, and other indicators that suggest you may have been drinking.

Why This Test Is Inaccurate 

Many people have poor coordination, whether they have been drinking or not. Fatigue, medications and some medical conditions may make this test impossible. Even stone cold sober, individuals have failed this test and have been arrested for a DUI.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

This test requires you to look at the officer while he or she asks you to follow a moving object, usually a pen or small flashlight, with your eyes. An indication of impairment by alcohol is when looking to extreme angles, the eyes will begin to shake involuntarily.

Why This Test Is Inaccurate 

Nystagmus is not always an indicator of drinking and driving. Some people may be inebriated and have no nystagmus, while others may have nystagmus while sober. Nystagmus also exists as a medical condition, and officers may believe that a person with this condition has been drinking when they haven’t.

The One-Leg Stand Test

During the third test, the officer will ask you to hold one foot up about six inches off the ground and count slowly until you are asked to stop, usually for thirty seconds.

Why This Test Is Inaccurate 

Like the walk and turn test, there are many things that can affect an individual’s balance and coordination. If a person has any medical conditions, takes certain prescribed medications, or is simply tired or worn out from a long day, they may not be able to balance well, causing them to fail the test.

When to Call an Attorney

Failure of field sobriety tests is common but is not at all an immediate indicator of drinking and driving. However, officers will arrest individuals who fail as though the tests are foolproof. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, contact an experienced attorney for help putting together a strong defense. Call T. Martin Knopes, P.A. today at (850) 683-0700.