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Three Ways You Can Fail a DUI Test While Sober

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

December 5, 2019

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asks officers to use three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) during traffic stops to determine whether a person is under the influence of alcohol. Because drivers are required by law to submit to requests for breath tests during alleged driving under the influence (DUI) stops, many people assume they are also obligated to perform field sobriety tests even though that is not the case.

You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests, and you should know that agreeing to perform them can be especially risky because many people fail these tests even when they are completely sober. Field sobriety tests are by no means flawless, and innocent people may commit simple mistakes that police officers will claim as failures.

If the police arrest you for drunk driving after allegedly failing a field sobriety test in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, you may want to find an experienced Broward Criminal Defense Attorney who can help you fight your criminal charges. An attorney is going to examine the tests you performed, and all other evidence in your case, to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

Walk and Turn

With the walk and turn test, a person is asked to walk a straight line with their arms at their sides and take nine steps heel-to-toe before turning and taking nine steps back along the same straight line. Even though this sounds somewhat simple, the truth is that many people could be susceptible to possible unease or shakiness that leads an officer to conclude they are intoxicated.

One Leg Stand

With the one-leg stand test, a person must raise one foot six inches off of the ground and then count to 30 aloud. This is an incredibly difficult test, even for sober drivers, because the testee must maintain a good balance to ensure the passing of the test.

People can have extreme difficulty keeping their foot raised for 30 seconds and maintaining their balance, especially after they have been seated in a motor vehicle for a prolonged period. Unfortunately, even swaying during this test could be considered a failure.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

Also known as the HGN test, a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test measures the jerking of an alleged offender’s eyes to indicate impairment or nystagmus; however, many things can trigger nystagmus. In Schultz v. State, 664 A.2d 60, 77 (Md. App. 1995), the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland found 38 other possible causes of nystagmus in addition to intoxication.

In other words, a person with glaucoma, influenza, or vertigo will fail this test while sober. Multiple NHTSA studies have found the accuracy of HGN tests to only be accurate about two-thirds of the time.

Get the Defense You Need

Were you arrested for DUI as the result of an allegedly failed field sobriety test in Florida? Quickly contact a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer with Hager & Schwartz, as our firm has lawyers who have been certified as AV Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell.

Call (954) 840-8713 now for an immediate consultation for your case!