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How to challenge field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2021 | Drunk Driving Charges |

Most states make having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater while driving illegal to curb DUI accidents. DUI laws allow officers to pull drivers over in Wilmington, North Carolina, if they suspect them of drunk driving. However, field sobriety tests are often debated for accuracy, and a driver can challenge them.

Types of field sobriety tests

There are three standard tests that the police use to check for DUI by having the driver perform certain actions. The officer observes the driver for certain cues to see how well he or she follows directions and his or her balance and coordination.

With the walk and turn test, the driver must take several steps forward in a straight line. He or she then has to turn on one leg and walk the other way. Horizontal gaze nystagmus analyzes an individual’s vision by checking for jerking movements or requiring him or her to follow an object, such as a pen, with his or her eyes. The one-leg stand requires the driver to balance on one leg for at least 20 seconds.

Arguments against field sobriety tests

These tests are necessary for an officer to get probable cause to arrest someone for DUI, but drivers may fail them for various reasons. The driver could argue in court that he or she has a health condition that makes him or her seem impaired, such as infections or multiple sclerosis. However, even healthy people struggle with balance, which is commonly affected by age, weight or lack of natural coordination.

Officers must follow certain guidelines when they administer field sobriety tests, or the results can’t be trusted. For example, the weather or surface they conduct the test on may cause the driver to fail.

A driver can commonly refuse field sobriety tests in North Carolina without being arrested. However, under implied consent laws, a person cannot refuse chemical testing, or he or she risks having his or her license suspended.


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