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What Police Look For to Fail Drivers Taking Field Sobriety Tests

young man taking a field sobriety test at night

Some drivers suspected of driving under the influence will be asked to take field sobriety tests.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

There are three standardized field sobriety tests:

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

All of these tests involve the driver participating in certain actions that show their coordination. If the driver does not perform to the police officer’s standard, they could be charged with DUI.

Signs of Impairment During Field Sobriety Tests

When the police ask a driver to participate in these tests, they are already under the assumption that the driver is intoxicated. This means the officer will be hyperaware of any behaviors that support their suspicion.

During these tests, they will take note of:

  • The driver’s inability to balance
  • Jitteriness
  • Unusual eye appearance (redness, dilation, shakiness, haziness, etc.)
  • Whether or not the driver followed the verbal instructions perfectly
  • Any behaviors indicating a lack of coordination or alertness

While the police may attribute these actions and observations to alcohol or drug impairment, they could actually be due to unrelated reasons.

Alternate Reasons for Failed Field Sobriety Tests

A sober individual may fail field sobriety tests if they display any of the above signs of impairment. However, these behaviors could instead be due to:

  • Medical conditions: One of the most common reasons why sober drivers fail field sobriety tests is because of underlying medical conditions or hidden disabilities. Physical impairments or limitations may be the reason why a driver cannot balance, walk in a straight line, etc.
  • Footwear: The footwear you have on for a field sobriety test can make a big difference! Uncomfortable footwear can be a hindrance as you are attempting to balance.
  • Anxiety: Interacting with the police is stressful for many people. Physical symptoms of anxiety, like shakiness, could be the real reason for the driver’s poor performance on field sobriety tests.

Refuse Field Sobriety Tests

Many people are aware of the penalty for refusing breathalyzer tests but are unaware that there is no penalty for refusing to participate in field sobriety tests. You never have to take these tests and we recommend that you don’t. Taking these tests allows for the police officer to collect more evidence against you.

Savannah DUI Attorney

If you are facing DUI charges in Savannah, Georgia, contact us at Schneider Lerch, LLC. We want to help you fight your charges and keep your record clean.

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