Four ways a field sobriety test could produce inaccurate results in Missouri.

Four ways a field sobriety test could produce inaccurate results in Missouri.

When you are pulled over for a traffic offense and suspected of drunk driving, it is likely that a Missouri police officer will give you a field sobriety test to further determine if you may be intoxicated. These tests are supposed to give the officer an accurate idea of whether or not it is safe for you to drive and whether or not you are breaking the law – but all too often these highly subjective tests are flawed.

Here are just a few ways your MO field sobriety test could go wrong:

• The police officer conducting the tests is biased. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that any police officer taking the time to conduct a field sobriety test has already decided that you are driving drunk. In recent studies, when officers are told that a subject is drunk, or when a subject smells of alcohol, the subject will often fail the test regardless of whether or not they have alcohol in their blood stream. 

• The police officer may give poor instructions or not be properly trained to conduct the tests. While some of the field sobriety tests, like the walk and turn test, seem simple, other tests, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus, can produce inaccurate results if conducted incorrectly. For example, if a police officer does not hold the horizontal gaze object at the correct distance or if he moves the object at the wrong speed, the subject could appear to fail the test. 

• The environment may be unsuitable for the test. The walk and turn test should be conducted on a flat, dry, and stable surface away from the road. The test results could be inaccurate if the subject is forced to execute the test in poor conditions or in a distracting environment. 

• The subject may have a physical disability or other extenuating circumstance that affects the accuracy of the test. Many people believe that the stand and turn test and other field sobriety tests don’t test drunkenness; instead, they test balance and coordination. Unfortunately, there are many reasons that someone might not be able to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line – reasons that could involve a disability, fatigue, stress, nervousness, or even a simple lack of general coordination. 

Unfortunately, despite the fact that multiple studies have found field sobriety tests to be inaccurate and misleading, they are still used as one of the primary ways to determine whether a Missouri driver was operating a vehicle while drunk. If you believe that you were wrongly charged with drunk driving due to a failed field sobriety test, talk to a Missouri DWI lawyer about your case.

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