When a police officer suspects someone of driving drunk, the officer has a few options. Breathalyzers, which measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC), are the most straightforward choice. However, many officers start with field sobriety tests.
A field sobriety test checks how you perform various tasks or react to stimuli. Depending on how well you perform, an officer will decide whether you were driving while intoxicated.
Faults in the tests
Unlike breathalyzers, which are objective, field sobriety tests are subjective. One officer might decide a person has passed; another might disagree. Given this mix of imperfect tests and police subjectivity, even sober people can fail.
One test involves observation of a driver’s eye movements. Another checks a driver’s ability to move precisely. Not everyone has typical eyes or precise movements, though. Even people with excellent motor skills can find the tests challenging in non-ideal conditions.
Why sober drivers can fail
One field sobriety test involves observation of horizontal gaze nystagmus, the jerking of your eyes. A sober driver can fail if they wear contact lenses or have certain eye conditions.
Another test, walk-and-turn, measures your ability to walk in a straight line and turn around on one foot. This test requires walking heel-to-toe, which can feel awkward even at the best of times. For people with various medical conditions, it might be impossible.
A third test checks your balance, but countless medical conditions can interfere. If you have one of them, this test won’t be accurate. Something as simple as uneven ground can ruin even a healthy person’s balance.
If you’ve been arrested based on a field sobriety test, you might feel upset and confused. The situation isn’t hopeless, though. You might benefit from contacting an attorney with experience in DUI cases.