It’s possible to fail a sobriety test when you’re sober

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2018 | Field Sobriety Tests

While you might think that anyone can pass a sobriety test when they’re sober, the reality is that these tests are so subjective that it might not be the case at all. There are three primary tests, the one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus test and walk-and-turn test.

Each of these is relatively easy on its own, but combined, many people could fail one or all of the tests even while sober. The reason for this is simple to break down.

These tests are subjective

The first reason that people fail is because the sobriety tests are subjective. To start with, what one officer believes is failure may not be considered failure by another. Officers who have been tested while watching the same person often gave different scores, showing how subjective the tests really are.

Medical conditions play a huge role in failure

With a test like the one-leg stand, the problem comes down to balance. There are many medical conditions that affect a person’s balance including amputations, vertigo, diabetes, seizures and others. Even a head cold can make it hard, or impossible, to pass the one-leg stand test.

The same can be said for the walk-and-turn test, which also relies on a person’s balance. Someone who cannot balance well is likely to fail this and the one-leg test or to struggle significantly.

With the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the likelihood of failing without intoxication is lower. However, the test still takes into consideration movements of the eyes that could be affected by medical conditions. A medical condition called peripheral neuropathy can cause people to fail the horizonal gaze nystagmus test. Other conditions involving sight and the eyes can also result in failure.

For people who fail these tests, it can mean a quick trip to the police station and a fight over an arrest record. If you fail one, then you can take steps to help yourself.

How can you prove you were sober?

Allow the officer to take a sample of your blood or breath. This should clear up confusion about alcohol intoxication. For drug intoxication, blood work might be necessary. Keep in mind that it’s up to the prosecution to prove that you were intoxicated, and it’s not your responsibility to prove your innocence. However, it can be a wise decision to work closely with your attorney during any investigation that takes place and if you have to go to court.

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