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Could you fail field sobriety tests while sober?

| Oct 27, 2020 | Drunk Driving |

If you are accused of drunk driving, something you may want to do is challenge the field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are somewhat accurate, but they’re not perfect. When used in combination, the three tests are meant to give officers an idea of whether you’re able to drive and if you are impaired.

The three tests, which are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and one-leg stand tests, have faults. For example, someone with a neurological condition may fail the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Someone with vertigo or balance issues could struggle to walk in a straight line or to stand on one leg.

That being said, when used in combination, these tests do usually suggest at least some kind of impairment. The fact is, though, that impairment can be from many factors, not just alcohol.

Can you fail field sobriety tests when you’re sober?

Yes, you can. People who are not intoxicated fail these tests all the time. Some of the reasons that people may fail include:

  • Age
  • Disabilities
  • Injuries that impact physical ability
  • Taking medications that cause dizziness or other issues
  • Living with medical conditions that impact the test

For example, did you know that just wearing contact lenses could impact the results of the HGN test? Diabetes could make someone fail a walk and turn test due to dizziness, or someone with seizures could fail the HGN due to their eye movements.

Will officers ask you about your medical conditions or other factors that may impact the test?

Normally, yes. Officers will generally ask if there is any reason that you may not be able to pass the test. If you have a disability or medical condition, that’s a good time to let them know that you have a physical reason that you could fail. Letting them know may be beneficial in court later, because you can state that you told the officer of the problem before the testing was completed.

If you’re accused of a DUI, don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Failing these tests doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be convicted of the charges.