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Why Do People Fail the Field Sobriety Test?

DUI Lawyer Los AngelesIf you get pulled over under suspicion of Driving Under the Influence or at a regular DUI checkpoint, you will be issued a series of field sobriety tests, perhaps just one or perhaps a handful.

There are different tests available to police officers but unfortunately, they are not very accurate and usually not provided in a standardized way, causing people to fail the field sobriety tests at a surprisingly high rate, including sober people some 30-40% of the time on average.

If you are not aware of how field sobriety tests are administered, and why they do not work, it can be very difficult for you to fight a California DUI Charge, even if you are not guilty.

My name is Jon Bryant Artz, and I have over 40 years of experience as a Top California DUI Attorney. I wrote this guide to help you understand more about field sobriety tests, what might cause you to fail one, and how you can use this information to get your DUI  charges reduced or dropped in Los Angeles.

Why Are Field Sobriety Tests So Ineffective?

In reality, there are many circumstances that can compromise the field test results achieved by a sobriety test. There are also plenty of situations where a breathalyzer can produce positive results above the legal limit when the driver is in fact not under the influence – called a “false positive”.

Non-Uniform Administration of Sobriety Tests

The walk-and-turn test, for example, is intended to be a test that someone under the influence could not successfully perform. However, research reveals that this test is inaccurate up to 32% of the time.

It is easy to see why. In real life situations, standing in an uncomfortable position while listening to the instructions on the side of a highway is distracting. Any missteps are considered to be signs that you are intoxicated when in reality you could just be standing in an uncomfortable position because you are nervous and misunderstanding the instructions you were given.

Most of the instructions provided are given rapidly, in order, and they won’t be repeated which can be difficult to follow even for sober individuals but the inability to correctly follow these instructions in order is also considered indicative of intoxication by police officers.

Tests that Sober People Fail More than ⅓ of the Time

In reality, the one-leg stand test is not any more effective than the other in field sobriety test. 35% of the time, even in ideal circumstances, the results of this test or incorrect. This test is much more basic than some of the others, however, for people who don’t have good balance it can be much worse.

The idea here is that if you sway at all, it is a sign that you are intoxicated. There are 4 main signs that a police officer is looking for while you do this test in order to determine if you are intoxicated:

  • If you raise your arms
  • If you sway
  • If you hop at all
  • If you place the raised foot down on the ground

Anyone who has poor stability, is nervous, or otherwise off balance, with inner ear problems might do any one of these four things earning themselves a false positive result immediately. We are bi-pedal beings. Being on one leg is just not natural to us, and causes each one of these things to happen, even in a sober state of mind, without us having any control over it most of the time.

What Can You Do to Avoid Failing a Sobriety Test?

It is important to understand how these field tests are achieved, in particular, what personal situations could have a detrimental impact on the results.

If for example, you have any type of neurological condition that impacts your balance, being asked to take a field sobriety test where balance and coordination are the issues under inspection could result in a false positive.

If you are on medications, you need to be aware of what impact they can have and in particular if any of them could render a positive result. Knowing what circumstances could potentially lead to incorrect results can help you to specifically ask for alternative testing measures such as a breathalyzer or a blood test taken at the station.

What to Do if You Have Failed a Field Sobriety Test and Are Charged with a DUI in California

If you have failed a field sobriety test, whether as a result from intoxication or from a false positive, it is very important that you seek legal help from a DUI lawyer immediately.

The charges can be serious, and result in fines, loss of license, community service, and jail time, and can also remain on your criminal record for life.

On top of that, you need to move quickly in order to prepare for the storm of paperwork and litigation coming your way.

I have helped hundreds of clients to fight false positives on sobriety tests, and also to help people get reduced DUI charges. If you have recently been charged with a DUI in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Jon Bryant Artz today for a free case evaluation to learn what your options are, and what steps to take next. I am confident that my team has the experience and resources necessary to help you through your case.

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