The police have an array of tools they can use to build a case for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. While the strongest evidence in these cases is often the results of a blood, breath, or urine test, this is not the only type of evidence a prosecutor might rely on.
Another common tool used by police is field sobriety tests. These are a series of physical tests and exercises that provide police with evidence of driver intoxication. Unfortunately, the accuracy of these tests is disputed. A skilled defense attorney could build a strong defense that contradicts the value of field sobriety tests in Upper Marlboro DUI cases.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
There are three different forms of field sobriety tests police in Upper Marlboro use when evaluating a person for drunk driving. These tests include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and horizontal gaze nystagmus.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Horizontal gaze nystagmus involves a police officer tracking a person’s eye movements using their finger or a pen. When the officer notices a tremor or wobble in the eye as it turns to one side or another, this represents a failure of the test and a sign of impairment. The police also look for smooth motion as an eye moves from side to side.
Walk and Turn Test
As the name suggests, the walk and turn test involves a person walking a line, turning on the spot, and returning to where they started. The police watch for several factors during this test.
First, police watch for the ability of the driver to follow instructions. This involves standing with their arms at their side as they listen to instructions. They also watch to see if the person steps off the line as they walk or loses their balance along the way.
One Leg Stand Test
The one-leg stand test is all about balance. In this test, the police ask a driver to stand and balance on one leg while counting to 30. The officer looks for signs that they are off balance. This includes swaying, using arms to balance, or even putting their foot down before 30 seconds is up. The police also track the driver’s perception of time. Their 30-second countdown should not be substantially faster or slower than 30 seconds on a stopwatch.
Are These Tests Accurate?
There are serious issues with the accuracy of these tests. While the purpose of these field sobriety tests is to provide objective signs of impairment, the results of each exam are highly subjective. It is easy for even a trained police officer to reach a false conclusion due to a mistake in administering the test.
Some people are physically incapable of passing these tests when not impaired. Certain medical conditions can lead to horizontal gaze nystagmus. Physical disabilities can result in a failure of the one-leg stand or walk and turn tests. A lawyer in Upper Marlboro could challenge the results of these field sobriety tests as evidence of impairment at a DUI trial.
Talk to an Attorney About the Impact of Field Sobriety Tests in Upper Marlboro DUI Cases
When you have been arrested in Upper Marlboro for DUI, the police might try to use the results of field sobriety tests against you. However, we could contest these results due to issues with the tests themselves. An experienced attorney could help you fight against field sobriety tests in Upper Marlboro DUI cases. Call today to discuss a case.