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Physical and mental conditions can impact field sobriety tests

Many police departments rely on the standardized field sobriety test to make a preliminary determination about a driver's sobriety. This is something that can be a very bad situation for some people, including those who have conditions that preclude them from being able to get an accurate test result.

The one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn are likely to be impacted by physical impairments. Even a condition like obesity, which is considered being 50 pounds overweight, can lead to inaccurate results on these tests. Certain back problems, leg injuries, foot issues and inner ear problems might cause the person to not be able to perform these tests appropriately.

In addition to those physical conditions, people who are 65 years old or older shouldn't do the standardized field sobriety test. These are some important points to remember if you are asked to do a field sobriety test.

There are some mental health conditions that can also impact the results of this battery of tests. For example, anxiety can make the results of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test seem like the person is intoxicated. Additionally, people who have mental disabilities that make it difficult for them to follow directions might not be able to successfully complete these tests.

While the results of the standardized field sobriety test aren't usually the only evidence in a drunk driving case, there might be points of these tests that can be called into question as part of your defense. Ideally, you will take all possible options into account so that you aren't overlooking something that could help your defense.

Source: FieldSobrietyTests.org, "Health or Mental Problems and Field Sobriety Tests," accessed Aug. 30, 2017

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