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What Could Cause a False Positive During a Field Sobriety Test?

Have you ever been pulled over while driving by the police? Almost any traffic infraction could lead the police to suspect drunk driving. This could happen for a number of reasons, such as running a red light or driving in between lanes.

If the police do suspect you of drunk driving, they may ask you to do a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are physical examinations that can help the police determine if a driver is drunk.

However, these tests are evaluated based on the subjective judgment of the officer. In other words, the police may not have an exact way to determine if someone is drunk when doing field sobriety tests. Because of this, all kinds of things could lead to a false judgment. For example:

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

A horizontal gaze nystagmus test can help the police determine how well a driver can focus. The officer will conduct the test by having the driver keep their eyes on a single object, such as a finger. As the object moves back and forth horizontally, the driver’s eyes will flicker. Too much flickering may mean that the driver is drunk.

If the driver has a medical condition that affects their eyes, then there could be a false judgment during this test. For instance, someone’s eyes could be affected by macular degeneration, which could make it harder to move their eyes to the test — and inner ear problems can cause the eyes to jump erratically.

Walk-and-turn test

The driver may be asked to do a walk-and-turn test. During this test, the driver will walk several paces in a line and walk back. A driver may be drunk if they stumble while walking. However, a driver could also stumble simply because they’re tired, nervous, or have balance problems.

One-legged stand test

Simply put, a driver will have to stand on one leg for several seconds during a one-legged stand test. If the driver loses balance or puts their foot down, then the officer may believe they are drunk. But, many people with disabilities have a hard time lifting their legs, which can make it nearly impossible to do this test.

You may need to learn what options you have for a legal defense if you’re facing a DUI charge. Experienced legal guidance can help.