When police officers suspect someone of driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, they may ask the driver to take a field sobriety test. These tests are supposed to help officers determine whether or not a person is intoxicated. If the results of the field sobriety test indicate intoxication, the officer may ask the suspect to take a breath test or “breathalyzer.” The individual may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and subject to administrative consequences and criminal penalties. Read on to learn about some of the top questions regarding field sobriety tests in Illinois.
The purpose of field sobriety tests is to help law enforcement determine if there is evidence of impairment. Often, field sobriety test results are used as justification for a DUI arrest.
Understanding The Three Most Common Tests
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – Alcohol has many different effects on the body. One such effect is an involuntary jerking of the eyeballs. Police may ask a suspect to follow a pen or other object with his or her eyes which they watch for signs of irregular eye movement.
Walk and Turn – This test requires the subject to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line. Police officers will look for signs that the suspect is having trouble balancing or remembering the test directions.
One Leg Stand – During this test, the suspect is instructed to raise his or her foot six inches off the ground and count to 30. The officer will look for signs of impairment like poor balance during the test.
Can You Fail a Field Sobriety Test Even If You Are Sober?
Field sobriety tests are generally accepted as useful tools, however, failing a field sobriety test does not automatically mean someone is intoxicated. Medical issues, mediations, obesity, and other issues have been shown to lead to false positives. One study found that the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test may be influenced by stimuli in the testing area, age, psychiatric disorders, medical problems, and prescription medications. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published literature about field sobriety tests that confirm that the tests are between 60-90 percent reliable when administered correctly by an appropriately-trained officer. As you can see, there is a large margin of error when it comes to field sobriety tests.
Contact a Naperville DUI Defense Lawyer
Field sobriety tests are not perfect and it is possible to avoid conviction for DUI even if you failed a field sobriety test. If you or a loved one were arrested for drunk driving, contact Aurora criminal defense attorney Patricia Magaña for help. Call 630-448-2001 for a free consultation. Se Habla Español.