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Failed a field sobriety test? You can still be innocent

As someone who didn't have much to drink, you were surprised when you didn't pass your sobriety tests when stopped by police. You knew you hadn't had enough to drink to be intoxicated. Somehow, you were unable to stand the right way or walk as balanced as the police would have liked.

You're not alone. Field sobriety tests can, and often are, wrong. There are medical reasons why many people fail. Others fail as a result of natural imbalances or differences in their abilities versus the typical person.

How could you fail a field sobriety test?

Here's an example. If you are asked to do a field sobriety test where you're walking heel to toe but have vertigo or are unbalanced due to back injuries, you may be unable to walk in that way without stumbling or having to correct yourself. To someone with no knowledge of your condition, it might appear as if you can't complete the task due to intoxication. The reality may be that you cannot complete the task because of your medical conditions or physical state.

Another example is the test used to see if you can balance. This test, called the one-leg stand test, is a standard test used to see if a person can stand, balanced, for around 30 seconds on one leg. The person can attempt to rebalance themselves during the test, but if they do, it may be a sign, to the officer, that they could be intoxicated.

Can you challenge the results of field sobriety tests?

Yes, and you should. The reality is that most of these tests are not accurate independent of other factors, like alcohol on your breath and a high blood alcohol content shown on a Breathalyzer. It's impossible to guarantee that a person is intoxicated by only performing one or two field sobriety tests.

If you are arrested following field sobriety tests despite having a low blood alcohol concentration, you're in a particularly good position to challenge the test. If you have medical conditions that can make you appear intoxicated, like seizure disorders or diabetes, then these can also be used as strong defenses in your case.

Don't say or do anything that could suggest that you've been drinking or that you believed you had too much. There are more factors than field sobriety tests that have to work together for a conviction. Your attorney can help protect you, even if you fail those tests.

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