Field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate

by | Jan 29, 2021 | Dui

For many police officers, the first step after pulling over a suspected drunk driver is to make them do field sobriety tests. If the person fails these tests, then they may be brought back to the station for a breath test or some other form of more extensive testing.

The problem with this system is that the field sobriety tests don’t work nearly as well as many people believe. It is very possible to fail them even if you haven’t been drinking. The officers may assume you’re intoxicated when you’re really just the victim of an inaccurate test.

What is the accuracy rate?

The accuracy rate depends on what test is used. When the three main tests are used together, studies have found that they’re right about 82% of the time. That’s not bad, but it’s still concerning that even this many are wrong.

It gets worse when just considering one test at a time. The accuracy rate for the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is five percent lower, at just 77%. There’s an even greater drop with the walk and turn test, which comes in at just 68%. Beyond that, the one-leg stand is only accurate in about 65% of cases.

Have you been arrested?

They sometimes say that everyone who gets arrested claims to be innocent. If you were arrested after one or more field sobriety tests, though, you can see how you may be able to show that there were issues with the way the tests were administered or with any equipment that was used. You need to know what legal defense options you have. An experienced attorney can help you.