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Here’s how to challenge field sobriety test results

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2021 | Dui |

Drunk driving allegations can harm your reputation and threaten your freedom, your finances, and even your career. With that in mind, it’s imperative that you know how to aggressively defend yourself when you’ve been accused of driving under the influence. To properly do so, though, you need to know the law and how it applies to your set of circumstances. From there, you can build the persuasive legal arguments that you need to mount what will hopefully be a successful criminal defense.

Defending against field sobriety tests

One way to go about defending yourself from DUI allegations is to challenge the results of field sobriety tests. Officers often use these tests to develop probable cause of intoxication, which then allows them to initiate an arrest. Field sobriety tests also allow law enforcement to gather additional evidence of intoxication, such as justifying a subsequent breathalyzer test, which can then be used against you to try to bully you into a plea deal or obtain a conviction at trial.

Yet, field sobriety tests are far from perfect. In fact, in many instances they provide nothing more than false perceptions of intoxication. Here, then, are some ways that you may be able to fight back against field sobriety test results that are being used against you:

  • The testing area wasn’t level: For some field sobriety tests, such as the one leg stand and the walk and turn, it is crucial that the testing area is level. If it’s not, then there’s a factor outside of intoxication that may contribute to a poor test result. Losing your balance on land that isn’t level shouldn’t be taken as a sign of intoxication.
  • There’s a lack of baseline: Even if you perform poorly on a field sobriety test, officers are often unable to put that result in the context of how you act under normal circumstances. Perhaps you’re just generally uncoordinated. You shouldn’t be penalized for that.
  • An officer failed to give appropriate directions: Field sobriety tests can be somewhat complicated to submit to, especially when you’re under the stress of a traffic stop and you’re being accused of drunk driving. That’s why it’s important that the officer who is administering the test provides you with clear and thorough instructions. If he or she doesn’t, then you might find yourself being penalized for his or her error.
  • An officer lacks the appropriate knowledge: Law enforcement officers are simply carrying out their jobs. As such, sometimes they’re simply going through the motions during a traffic stop. This means that a lot of times they don’t even know why they’re administering a certain field sobriety test. They just know that they’ve been taught to do so. In these situations, you can highlight to a judge and jury that the officer is unable to appropriately gauge the results of a field sobriety test because he or she doesn’t even know why certain tests are carried out in a particular way.
  • There’s an innocent reason for your actions: In some cases, poor field sobriety test performance is caused by nothing more than an innocent reason, such as fatigue. A tired driver may have a harder time passing the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, for example, which an officer may misinterpret as intoxication.

Fight back against aggressive prosecutorial tactics

Quite frequently, prosecutors aggressively try to force plea deals on those who have been accused of DUI. It might be tempting to take one of these deals, especially if you feel like the evidence is mounted against you. But you might have powerful criminal defense options at your disposal. You just need to learn about them and know how to utilize them to your advantage. Skilled law firms like ours know how to do just that. So, if you’d like to learn more about how to build your DUI defense, then now may be the time to reach out to a law firm that you trust with your future.