Field sobriety tests can, in theory, help police officers determine if someone is likely under the influence of alcohol. The way that someone performs on a field sobriety test can create the probable cause necessary for chemical breath testing and may play a role in someone’s prosecution.
Of course, like many forms of testing, field sobriety testing is fallible. There are many scenarios in which individuals may fail the tests and appear intoxicated to a police officer when they are actually completely sober. Police officers may dismiss someone’s explanation for their poor performance and arrest them for a drunk driving offense or for refusing to take a chemical test after a field sobriety test.
If one of the two situations below applies to you, you could very well have a plausible medical explanation for your failed field sobriety test.
You struggle with anxiety
Anxiety may all be in your head, but it can affect your physical body. People may shake or have trouble with their motor control because of their feelings of tension and fear. Those with generalized anxiety and stress disorders may not handle an interaction with authority well.
Anxiety could easily lead to you stumbling during a walk-and-turn test or losing your balance during a one-leg stand test. You may even have a hard time following an officer’s finger with your eyes and a horizontal gaze nystagmus test because you compulsively keep glancing at their face or trying to make eye contact with them.
You have a condition that affects muscular control or balance
Maybe you have had mild issues with vertigo ever since you suffered a brain injury while playing college sports. Perhaps you have a neurological condition that affects your muscular control.
There are arranged of neurological and physical conditions that can affect someone’s motor control and balance. Even if you explain to the police officer testing you about your condition, they may assume the worst rather than taking you at your word. You may eventually need to present medical evidence in criminal court to establish that you did not, in fact, drive while drunk.
Fighting back against impaired driving charges by challenging sobriety tests can protect your license, your freedom and your reputation by preventing a permanent criminal record.