Inaccuracies of Field Sobriety Tests

When police officers make traffic stops on suspicion of drunk driving, there are a variety of tools that they may use in order to make an educated decision on whether the subject is intoxicated and should be detained. Unfortunately, few of these methods can be relied upon to regularly and accurately determine the true intoxication level of a subject. One of the least precise yet still popular methods to estimate a driver’s blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is field sobriety tests.

In field sobriety tests, subjects are asked to perform physical tasks while the investigating officer evaluates their performance based on the standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, there are only three field sobriety tests that have been standardized by the NHTSA, and studies have shown that even these three tests have accuracy rates far below 100%.

Why Field Sobriety Tests Fail

Unfortunately, no two people are exactly alike, which means that any “standardized” test can have misleading results. There are an enormous number of physical conditions or special circumstances which could skew the perception of a field sobriety test towards a false positive, such as the following:

  • Illness
  • A speech impediment or language barrier
  • Physical handicaps
  • Inner ear conditions

With a false positive field sobriety test, you may find yourself facing DWI charges that you do not deserve.

Contact Us

If you are facing charges of driving while intoxicated, it is essential that you seek skilled legal representation in order to protect your rights and interests. The results of a field sobriety test are questionable evidence at best, and an experienced Cape Cod criminal attorney can help you have your case dismissed or the charges reduced. To learn more about your legal options, contact James Powderly today at 508-343-0676.


Interview with a Former DUI Client