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Failed a Field Sobriety Test? It’s More Common Than You Think


January 20, 2005

DUI charges are easily the worst situation you can get into, primarily because a single proven charge will remain on your permanent record for a long time. So, what’s your best move? That’s easy. Don’t drink and drive. Except that even if you haven’t even touched anything stronger than a Diet Coke, you could still fail the Field Sobriety Test. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, read ahead for some shocking information about how that works.

Field Sobriety Tests are Only 68% Accurate

The Walk and Turn Test, also called the Field Sobriety Test, is only accurate 32% of the time. In case you’re facing DUI charges, your Bowie criminal defense attorney will agree that passing the test is tough, and it is not unusual for entirely sober people to fail. When a law enforcement officer stops on suspicion of DUI, they’ll give you a series of instructions in rapid succession. Most people get nervous when stopped by the police, and in the confusion and stress, it is hard to understand what you’re asked to do.

The Walk and Turn Test – How it Works?

If you can’t follow the instructions, the officer can take it as a “clue” that your judgment is impaired because of alcohol influence. You’ll perform tests like:

  • Stand in an uncomfortable stance and follow directions.
  • Walk nine steps from heel to toe along a single line.
  • Turn in a particular way as directed while holding your arms by your side.
  • Look down at your feet.
  • Count out loud in the proper sequence without stopping.
  • Turn around and walk back along the same line heel to toe for nine steps.

Officers Relay Instructions in Rapid Succession

Police officers are known to relay the instructions quickly without giving the person time to process and react. They may also call out instructions about what not to do to confuse you thoroughly. Often people are wearing uncomfortable shoes that make it impossible to walk in a straight line. Like, for instance, women wearing high heels. You won’t be given the opportunity to pause or take off your shoes. Further, like your Orlando criminal defense attorney will argue in court, it is next to impossible to walk a line without raising your arms for balance. When performing the Walk and Turn Test, a minimum of 8 “clues” will suffice to indicate alcohol influence.

Now Comes the One Leg Stand Test

The final test is the One Leg Stand or the OLS test, where officers look for a minimum of 4 “clues.” You will raise a foot around six inches from the ground with the sole parallel to the ground. While holding your arms on your sides and legs straight, you must count from “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…” while the police officer times 30 seconds on their watch. Does this sound like something you can pull off successfully on the side of the road? With officers watching closely? Probably not.

Get Legal Representation to Challenge DUI Charges

If you’re facing a DUI charge, contact your attorney for information on how to face the issue and get a dismissal. In case the charges are proved in court, you must typically maintain a clean slate for at least three to ten years to get the record sealed.

These laws depend on the state where you live. In some locales, a DUI cannot be expunged. Speak to a knowledgeable expungement lawyer who can let you know whether this option is available in your locale. You may still have the life-changing option of reducing a felony conviction to a misdemeanor.

A Field Sobriety Test is typically not that easy to clear, but if you face DUI charges, make sure to get competent legal representation and resolve the issue.

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About the Author

At the Law Offices of Top Gun DUI Defense Attorney Myles L. Berman, our experienced team of DUI / Drunk Driving defense lawyers are dedicated to aggressively defending people arrested for DUI.