You may have recently been pulled over under the suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI). An officer may have asked you to step out of your vehicle and perform what’s known as field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests are used by police to identify if someone was drunk behind the wheel. Failing these tests may cause an officer to conclude that you were DWI. There are three common tests officers use:
A walk-and-turn test
A walk-and-turn test will have a suspect walk in a straight line, turn and then walk back on that same line. Officers may look for uneasiness or stumbling while walking and whether the suspect walked in a straight line.
The one-legged stand test
A one-legged stand test will have a suspect stand on one leg for some duration of time. Officers may believe someone to be DWI if they are unbalanced during this test.
A horizontal gaze nystagmus test
This test looks for “jumping” in your eyes, which is a type of visual impairment. Visual impairment tests often have the officer asking the suspect to keep their eyes on a finger or light without moving their head. A suspect may fail to keep their head still or lose focus during this test.
At best, however, these tests are graded with an educated guess. These tests are often biased toward people who are disabled or elderly. Someone with a lazy eye may not be able to focus on a single point. Leg problems may prevent someone from keeping their balance. Sleep deprivation, caffeine or stress may even cause someone problems completing a task proving they weren’t impaired.
If you feel you were falsely accused of driving while impaired due to field sobriety test, then you need to know your defense options.