Can police officers make errors when giving field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | Owi

If a law enforcement officer stops you on suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), will a field sobriety test follow?

The officer may ask you to submit to field sobriety testing, but you may have reasons to avoid participation.

About field sobriety tests

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) established tests to determine the intoxication level of a suspected drunk driver. The NHTSA also developed guidelines that those administering the tests must follow. There are three tests:

  • The Walk and Turn
  • The One-Leg Stand
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

Role of the officer

An impartial law enforcement officer will conduct your test, then grade it. However, two officers viewing the video of your test may come to different conclusions. One may pass you while the other gives you a failing mark. The officer who administered your test may not have made notes, so, there may be inaccuracies in his or her report about the OWI stop and testing.

A failing mark

Even if you are completely sober, you might fail the field sobriety tests. You could have back or foot issues that would cause you to fail the Walk and Turn or the One-Leg Stand. Eye issues could result in failure of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. If you are age 65 or older, have a physical disability or are more than 50 pounds overweight, an officer should not ask you to participate in this battery of tests.

Defense strategy

If you face a charge of OWI, you can rely on an attorney to examine all the evidence, your test results and the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Errors in the testing procedure are not uncommon and your advocate will prepare a defense strategy that provides the best outcome possible for your case.

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