When you drink and then drive a vehicle, you know you are taking a huge risk not only to yourself but to anyone else that comes near you on the road. When you get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), however, it may not be as simple as it seems. People fail field sobriety tests and get arrested for DUI every day, and everyday these same people are innocent of the charges. It's a lot easier than you may think for law enforcement officers to make mistakes when administering these roadside tests, and the results can lead to a false arrest. If you have been arrested for DUI as a result of a field sobriety test, you may be interested in learning more about these three tests and how unreliable the results of them can be.
The 3 Main Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the same government agency that ensures the vehicles on the road are safe, oversees the administration of the three most commonly-used field sobriety tests. Most people have seen these tests on numerous television shows but may know little about them.
1. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This test is named for a medical condition that affects eye movement, where the eye persists in making quick, jerking eye movements that prevent clear vision for its victims. In this field sobriety test, the law enforcement officer holds an object (usually a pen) in front of the eyes of the test subject and requests that the subject follow it as it is moved. People who are impaired can show signs of rapid eye movement at certain points, but unfortunately, so can people with certain types of visual disturbances and those who wear contact lenses or glasses or who have a brain disorder.
2. The Walk and Turn: In this field sobriety test, the subject is asked to take steps placing their heel to the front of their toes and to walk in a straight line. They are then instructed to turn and walk back to the starting point. Since being under the influence can cause people to have balance problems, the law enforcement officer observing the subject looks for signs of wavering or setting the wrong foot down in the wrong place. The test also allows the officer to observe the ability of the subject to understand and follow the verbal directions, something that those impaired may have trouble doing. When you take into consideration everything that could go wrong in this test, it seems easy to fail. In fact, sober people might have problems passing the test if the ground is uneven, if they have underlying medical conditions that affect balance, if they are nervous, or if they have trouble understanding the directions due to a language barrier.
3. The One Leg Stand: This is another test of balance, and requires the subject to lift one leg and count out loud. Even ground is called for here, something that may be difficult to find in a roadside test. Those with balance issues or medical issues with their legs, back, and hips are more likely to "fail" this test, even with no alcohol consumption.
To get legal representation to fight your DUI charges, speak to a criminal defense attorney from a firm such as The Gentry Firm.