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How can you disprove field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Drivers are pulled over on suspicion of DUI every day in Maryland. However, just because you have been pulled over doesn’t mean you are guilty. If you decline a Breathalyzer test, the officer may be annoyed enough to arrest you despite a lack of solid evidence. In that case, to prove your innocence, you will probably have to challenge the field sobriety tests you were forced to perform.

The three field sobriety tests

First, it’s good to know what DUI field sobriety tests typically consist of. Common field sobriety tests include:

  • The walk-in-a-straight-line-and-turn test
  • The stand-on-one-leg test
  • The horizontal gaze test

These are the three tests most police departments authorize for DUI stops. First, you may be asked to walk in a straight line, heel to toe, and then suddenly turn. The horizontal gaze test is used to detect a symptom known as nystagmus, a kind of involuntary eye movement. A driver is usually asked to follow a pen or some object with his or her eyes to detect it. The stand-on-one-leg test is self-explanatory.

Challenging these tests

If you refused a Breathalyzer test, the main evidence the police officer will use against you is your performance during field sobriety tests. Challenging these tests is not easy but may be possible with a good attorney. For one, you may have a disability or physical ailment that may have made performing these tests too difficult. If you have arthritis, standing on one leg and walking toe to heel is probably impossible for you.

Similarly, an eye problem or neurological issue could result in failing the horizontal gaze test. You could also challenge whether the tests were administered correctly or if the right tests were used. Only these three tests are generally approved. Reciting the alphabet backward, for example, would not be. The three tests are not 100 percent reliable, regardless, and can be challenged on those grounds as well.

Being arrested for DUI doesn’t automatically mean you are guilty. The field sobriety tests you were administered may have produced false positives. These tests are not always reliable, and it may still be possible to prove your innocence in court.