Failing field sobriety tests despite not having consumed alcohol can occur for several reasons. Field sobriety tests are subjective assessments of a person’s physical and cognitive abilities, and various factors can affect your performance. Here are some possible explanations:
- Nervousness or Anxiety: Feeling nervous or anxious when interacting with law enforcement officers can lead to physical and cognitive
impairment, making it difficult to perform well on field sobriety tests.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions or physical limitations can affect your balance, coordination, and ability to perform tasks like walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. These conditions may include inner ear issues, neurological disorders, or musculoskeletal problems.
- Fatigue: Being tired or exhausted can affect your performance on field sobriety tests, making you appear impaired even if you haven’t
- Medications: Some medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness, or other side effects that may impair your ability to pass field sobriety
tests. Make sure to inform law enforcement if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Environmental Factors: Poor weather conditions, uneven terrain, or inadequate lighting can also impact your ability to perform these tests successfully.
- Inexperience: Lack of familiarity with the specific instructions or expectations of field sobriety tests can lead to misunderstandings and poor performance.
Further, field sobriety tests lack reliability for the following three (3) reasons:
- When they are administered in the field, officers cannot emulate the environment in which the tests were validated.
- The tests fail to take into consideration factors such as: age, weight, disabilities, and injuries.
- When done from memory, officers often fail to administer the tests in the validated standardized manner.
First, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) were designed and validated in an office setting, with standard individuals, under standardized conditions. In real life, they’re rarely done under these appropriate and controlled circumstances.
In real life, field sobriety tests are administered in the field with varying:
- Temperatures (sometimes extreme); and
- Icy, wet, uneven or unmarked surfaces.
Whether it’s rocks, uneven pavement, rain, or a number of varying aggravating factors (see above), all of these things can make the tests less reliable. In order for Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) must be administered in a standardized fashion and scored with standardized scoring techniques.
Second, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) don’t account for things like:
- Physical disabilities; and
- Mental disabilities.
Dont let a DWI
ruin your life
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) were validated using standard individuals of appropriate age, weight and physical capabilities. When they are done on older, over-weight, or individuals with the physical disabilities or injuries, the tests can become unreliable.
For example, if you’re a seventy-eight (78) year old man being asked to perform these tests, the way the tests are administered and scored is the same as it is for a twenty-eight (28) year old man. Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST’s) don’t account for disabilities, illnesses, or injuries.
Further, officers are trained on field sobriety test administration at the police academy and they participate in refresher courses approximately once every ten (10) years. This leaves officers vulnerable to making errors in administration or scoring of the tests. If an officer fails to give a required instruction, or otherwise fails administer the test in the standardized, the test can become unreliable.
If your attorney doesn’t know how field sobriety tests are supposed to be administered, what the officer did or didn’t do will not be accounted for when weighing the reliability of the tests.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
All of the above-mentioned pitfalls come into play and the field sobriety tests that would otherwise be reliable indicators of intoxication can become unreliable indicators of intoxication, but yet the officer and the DA still rely on the tests to be circumstantial evidence of intoxication and to establish probable cause for an arrest.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve failed field sobriety tests but have not consumed alcohol, it’s essential to remain calm and cooperative. Be honest about any relevant factors, such as medical conditions or medications, that may have contributed to your performance.
Additionally, consider consulting with a legal professional if you believe you were wrongfully charged or if you have concerns about the situation. They can provide guidance on how to handle your specific case and protect your rights.