Some field sobriety tests difficult for sober people to pass

Field sobriety tests may be inaccurate, and even some sober people can have difficulty balancing or performing other parts of the test.

It is often devastating for a person after a drunk driving conviction in California. The consequences of a DUI usually go far beyond the immediate penalties, such as fines and temporary driver's license suspension. In many cases, the repercussions of a DUI can last for years and impact a person's reputation and ability to keep a job as well as his or her driving record.

Unfortunately, not everyone who receives a DUI conviction had something to drink before the arrest. One of the most common ways a person can be falsely arrested for drunk driving is by performing poorly during a field sobriety test. Law enforcement in many communities regularly conduct these tests to screen for drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, standard field sobriety tests include various activities that can help an officer determine if a person has been driving while impaired.

Field sobriety tests can be conducted inaccurately

Field sobriety tests rely almost entirely on human judgment, which can be erroneous. In fact, says the Michigan Bar Journal, at least one study suggested that police officers may have performed the field sobriety test incorrectly up to 95 percent of the time.

There are numerous ways a person can fail a field sobriety tests despite not having had anything to drink, says ABC Action News. For example, an officer might mistakenly interpret a person with inner ear problems or trouble balancing as drunk. Other ways that a person could have difficulty with a field sobriety test include:

  • Having a speech impediment that results in slurred or halting speech that may imitate the signs of impairment.
  • Suffering from loss of mobility or balance due to age or obesity.
  • Having an injury or medical condition that results in difficulty walking or standing.

Most field sobriety tests involve standing on one leg for a specified period of time or walking in a straight line and turning on one foot without losing balance. It's possible to see how some people with impairments would have difficulty correctly performing these actions.

Steep DUI consequences in California

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the penalties for a drunk driving conviction in California can be severe, including a fine of up to $1,000, potential jail time and an additional license suspension period. Depending on the county in which the offense occurred, a mandatory ignition interlock device may be required as well. In other counties, the Department of Motor Vehicles may order the installation of an IID as a condition of restoring driving privileges.

Getting help from an attorney

After a drunk driving arrest, everyone is entitled to fair treatment in court, regardless of the circumstances. An experienced DUI defense attorney can protect your rights if you've been arrested for drunk driving.

Keywords: DUI, field test, drunk driving, arrest