Though many people believe that failing field sobriety tests means that you’ll face a DUI conviction, the truth is that there are many reasons why people fail these tests without being intoxicated.
Field sobriety tests include the:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
- Walk-and-turn test
- One-leg turn
These are the three most common field sobriety tests used today. The problem with these tests is that they are not 100% accurate on their own. Even in combination, they cannot guarantee that the person taking them was intoxicated and not dealing with other issues, like a neurological condition or medical emergency.
How accurate are field sobriety tests?
The accuracy of field sobriety tests varies. When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked at each of the above tests, it found that the HGN test was only around 77% accurate. The walk-and-turn test was only around 68% accurate. The one-leg stand test came back with around a 65% rate of accuracy.
Even in combination, there is a good chance that these tests could falsely implicate someone. When all three were used in combination, the NHTSA showed that they were only 82% accurate. That means that around 18 out of 100 people would be falsely accused of impairment as a result of the combination of these tests.
Police officers have used these tests for many years because of the need to determine if a driver can be on the road safely and if they should be arrested for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. In some cases, failing these tests won’t result in a DUI but could help officers identify that the driver is having a medical emergency or needs additional support.
What should you do if you fail your field sobriety tests?
If you fail the field sobriety tests that you were given, don’t give up. You have a right to challenge those results and may be able to defend yourself against them. Issues like vertigo, diabetes, traumatic head injuries and other health issues could make these tests less accurate than usual and help your case. Even something like anxiety could lead to inaccurate results, so it’s worth looking into a defense if you fail these tests.