Disputing field sobriety test results may help your DUI defense

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

If you have been pulled over for a traffic violation in Virginia, the officer on the scene may request you to submit to a series of field sobriety tests to determine whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you agree, the officer will administer the tests, which include:

  • The walk-and-turn: The officer will ask you to walk in a straight line, taking heel-to-toe steps, turn around on one foot, and walk back the same way.
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus: The officer will ask you to follow a moving with your eyes without moving your head to evaluate your eye movements.
  • The one-leg stand: The officer will tell you to hold one foot 6 inches off the ground for 30 seconds.

The officer will then evaluate the results of the above tests and determine if you failed any of them. If you did, the officer may request you to take a blood or chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content level. The officer will use their personal observations, test results, and other evidence to determine whether to charge you with a DUI.

Are field sobriety tests reliable?

The results of a field sobriety test are not always accurate for several reasons. Field sobriety test results may be inadmissible against you in court if:

  • The test was not administered properly (e.g., test was administered on uneven ground or in area with poor lighting).
  • The officer who administered the test was not properly trained.
  • You have a medical condition that makes it difficult to pass the tests, even when completely sober.
  • The officer misinterpreted your actions during the tests based on a preconceived notion that you were impaired.

You do not have to agree to take field sobriety tests in the state of Virginia. However, if you do submit to these tests, an attorney can help dispute the results as part of your DUI defense strategy.