Execution of field sobriety tests can be flawed

| Mar 30, 2018 | drunk driving, Firm News |

Getting stopped on suspicion of drunk driving can be a stressful experience for a Mesa resident. Upon being confronted by a law enforcement official, an individual may be asked to get out of their vehicle and to submit to physical tests that may, if failed, give the law enforcement official evidence of the individual’s alleged intoxication. However, tests, often called field sobriety tests, can be problematic when they are improperly executed.

For example, one of the standard field sobriety tests that people are often asked to perform is the walk and turn test. This seemingly easy test requires a subject to walk heel to toe in a straight line before turning and returning to their original spot without falling, wobbling or otherwise demonstrating exaggerated behaviors related to losing their balance.

Now, imagine if the subject was asked to perform this test on an uneven surface, such as on a stretch of ground where roots, rocks or other hazards were present. A perfectly sober person may struggle to maintain their footing if the location chosen by the law enforcement officer is unsuited to the test. The poor conditions involved with the test may lead to erroneous results and a false arrest for the individual.

Problems can also arise in the execution of other field sobriety tests, such as the one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. It is important that individuals arrested for alleged drunk driving remember and write down the conditions under which they were asked to submit to field sobriety testing. These facts may provide defenses to the individuals’ performances on the tests and may provide options for alleged drunk drivers to eliminate their pending charges.