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How to challenge field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | DUI

The police can administer field sobriety tests (FSTs) at a sobriety checkpoint in addition to a chemical test. These tests evaluate a driver’s balance, coordination and ability to follow directions.

If you fail the tests, the police can use your results as evidence against you in court. However, you can challenge the tests. Here are few ways you may be able to do that.

Challenge the tests’ accuracy

You should know that FSTs are not 100% accurate. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the horizontal gaze nystagmus is 77% accurate, the walk and turn test is 68% accurate and the one-leg stand is 65% accurate.

Technically, these are reliable percentages, and the police use the tests in combination to ensure maximum accuracy. However, there is still a margin of error. A sober person can fail an FST.

Challenge the tests used

The NHTSA considers the above-mentioned tests to be the most reliable. However, an officer can perform non-standardized tests, such as the ABC test, finger-to-nose test and numbers backward test. Since the department has not done adequate research to prove the accuracy of these tests, you can challenge them if used.

Challenge how the tests were conducted

The NHTSA has strict guidelines that a police officer should observe when performing an FST. If an officer fails to follow these guidelines regarding how they conduct a test or interpret it, its results may be inadmissible in court.

The officer didn’t consider your physical or medical condition

If you have a physical or medical condition that affected your ability to perform an FST, but the officer failed to account for that, even if you told them, that is relevant to the relevance of the results. For example, the inner ear helps the body maintain balance. When it’s infected, your balance can be effected. Accordingly, you can fail tests that evaluate balance.

There are potential challenges to FSTs. Having experienced legal guidance is the best way to ensure that the appropriate challenges are made.