Data shows field sobriety tests are less than 70 percent accurate

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2017 | Field Sobriety Tests

While it’s understandable that a field sobriety test would be difficult for someone who is intoxicated to pass, it’s just as easy for someone who has not even had a sip of alcohol to fail one as well. In case you’re wondering why it’s so easy to not pass it, it’s because it’s not all that uncommon for those that are plagued with nervousness, poor coordination or vertigo to perform poorly as well.

Three smaller coordination or cognitive exercises comprise what’s known as a field sobriety test. There’s the horizontal gaze, the stand-on-one-leg drill and the walk-and-turn routine.

With the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer is on the lookout to see if you appear to experience an involuntary jerking of one or both of your eyes. This type of behavior is often exacerbated by alcohol use.

When it comes to both the one-leg stand test and the walk-and-turn exercise, the police officer is looking to see if you can perform the required tasks per his or her instructions. Doing so is virtually impossible for those who are inebriated.

Many who oppose the use of these field sobriety tests as an indicator of a the degree of a person’s intoxication argue that the results of these tests cannot be relied upon to be totally accurate. This is because an officer’s decision as to whether or not an individual’s behavior is indicative of intoxication is subjective. In contrast, lab results are much more reliable.

Research that has been conducted by the DUI DWI Foundation suggests that the horizontal gaze test is accurate just 77 percent of the time. They’ve found that the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests are accurate in just 68 and 65 percent of all cases respectively.

It’s because of these statistics that attorneys are routinely able to secure acquittals in their clients’ cases. It’s also because of their knowledge of this data that many recommend for their clients to decline taking the field sobriety test altogether. Doing so leaves less evidence on the table that can ultimately be used against you if your case makes it to trial.

If you were charged with drunk driving after having failed a field sobriety test, then a Baltimore, Maryland, attorney may be able to provide guidance in your legal matter.

Source:, “Passing a Field Sobriety Test Difficult – Drunk or Sober,” accessed June 23, 2017

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