Unreliable Field Sobriety Tests? A Pierce County DUI lawyer explains

Elevated alcohol levels can cause a driver to be physically or mentally impaired, and negatively affect his ability to drive safely. However, non-chemical field sobriety tests cannot always assess alcohol impairment in a reliable manner. An experienced Pierce County DUI lawyer will be able to explain the unreliable aspects of field sobriety tests — and potentially use those weaknesses for your benefit.

Rely on officer’s observations
Law enforcement agencies use a variety of non-chemical field sobriety tests. These tests rely on police observations of driver behavior to assess impairment. For example, an officer might ask a driver to walk a straight line or stand on one leg for a specific period of time. These tests, while commonly used, cannot definitively show a driver’s ability to perform the tasks required when driving a motor vehicle. Accordingly, many of the non-chemical field tests have inherent issues which render them unreliable.

Factors that may render test results unreliable
The unreliable aspects of non-chemical field sobriety tests cover a range of concerns. A test may be unreliable because it lacks scientific data or a proper research design to establish a pattern of reliability. Other researched tests might lack reliability because officers cannot establish baseline performance levels to show what the subject’s performance would have been while sober.
Other tests fail to consider individual circumstances which could affect test results. A subject might have a medical reason, a physical impairment, or an illness which affected his performance during a field sobriety test. For example, an ear condition might adversely affect a person’s balance and limit his ability to stand on one foot.

Another circumstance that might adversely affect the test results is the manner in which the test is administered. If police officers fail to follow standardized instructions when giving the tests, the results will be unreliable.

Contact Pierce County DUI lawyer, South King County criminal attorney
If the state plans to rely on the results of a non-chemical field sobriety test, consider speaking with a Pierce County DUI lawyer about your legal options. If you would like me to review your case, please use the Free Case Evaluation form on this page to tell me about your situation, or call me directly.

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