Possible ways for a field sobriety test to be inaccurate

Police officers in Arizona and across the country frequently use field sobriety test to catch drunk drivers, but these tests can be inaccurate.

Drunk driving charges are difficult for anyone to face. Unfortunately, many residents in Arizona and throughout the country can end up with a DUI charge despite not having had anything to drink. Some can find themselves facing charges after only one or two drinks and still well under the legal blood alcohol content limit of .08 percent.

How is it possible that a person can be wrongfully charged with a DUI? One common way for this to happen is by performing poorly on a field sobriety test. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is a battery of tests that officers use to make a determination on whether or not a person has been driving intoxicated. These tests are subject to an officer's interpretation, meaning that someone with very little to no alcohol in his or her system can still be arrested after a field sobriety test, says ABC Action News.

Common ways to fail a field sobriety test

According to the Michigan Bar Journal, people with certain mental or physical impairments can perform poorly on the field sobriety test, especially since some studies have shown that police officers may conduct portions of the field test incorrectly up to 95 percent of the time.

The most common field sobriety tests include the subject walking in a straight line and turning on one foot, or standing on one leg for a specified time limit. Conditions that can contribute to a failed test may include:

  • Inner ear problems or poor balance.
  • Obesity or old age.
  • Mental impairments or speech impediments that mimic signs of intoxication.
  • General poor balance.
  • Anxiety associated with the police investigation.
  • Fatigue.

The consequences of a DUI charge can affect a person for years. Arizona has long been known for its severe drunk driving penalties. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, these penalties include jail time, thousands of dollars in fines and court fees, a suspended driver's license and community service, the ignition interlock (breath machine) on your car. Even those with a first-time conviction are required to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. Drunk driving penalties become markedly steeper for those with subsequent convictions.

A drunk driving defense attorney can help

If you've been arrested for drunk driving after a failed field sobriety test or for any other reason, you are entitled to be treated fairly by the court. Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney to discuss your rights. If it is determined that your arrest was based on a faulty test, you may be able to have some charges reduced or even dropped altogether.

Keywords: DUI, arrest, field test