What are field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2021 | Drunk Driving |

Drunk driving is a dangerous problem on Ohio roads, but not every driver stopped on suspected drunk driving is guilty. Too often innocent drivers are pulled into drunk driving stops and forced to endure field sobriety tests to prove that they are not intoxicated. Unfortunately, not all sober individuals can successfully pass these tests, and some are wrongfully charged with drunk driving crimes.

Field sobriety tests are a complicated part of many drunk driving arrests. This post will explain what they are and what can go wrong when they are administered. This post does not give its readers any legal advice and counsel on erroneous drunk driving charges should be directed to dedicated criminal defense attorneys.

Types of field sobriety tests

Field sobriety tests assess drivers’ focus and physical control. They put drivers into situations where they must use their balance, coordination, and motor skills to succeed. Some common field sobriety tests include:

  • Walk and turn: A driver walks heel to toe and returns to their starting point without losing their balance or veering off course.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus: A driver looks to the side and an officer evaluates if their eyes are shaking, a sign of intoxication.
  • One foot stand: A driver lifts one foot off the ground and must hold their balance on the other foot.

While some of these tests may be easy for some sober drivers, others affected by physical problems or medical conditions may be unable to perform them even under the most beneficial circumstances.

Problems with field sobriety testing

Field sobriety tests require trained law enforcement officers to execute and assess them accurately. An officer who lets their arbitrary opinions of a driver’s performance to influence how they grade an assessment may wrongfully arrest an innocent driver. Many factors, from road conditions and weather to training and evaluation can impact the outcome of field sobriety testing.

This informational post is provided to inform readers on the problematic nature of field sobriety testing. Drivers who have been wrongfully arrested based on field sobriety testing results have rights. They can contact their drunk driving defense attorneys for help.