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Can You Fail a Field Sobriety Test Without Being Drunk?

Posted on : August 4, 2016, By:  Brian Kelley
Mississippi DUI Defense Attorney

If a police officer pulls you over and suspects you of drinking and driving, he or she may ask you to step out of the car and perform field sobriety tests. There are generally 3 tests that are performed, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one leg stand test, and the walk and turn test. By using these tests, the officer will determine if you are “under the influence of alcohol,” and may decide to arrest you for drunk driving even if you passed a breathalyzer test. Are there other reasons why you could fail a field sobriety test without being drunk?

Pre-Existing Injuries & Conditions

Some people may have had injuries in the past which won’t allow them to do certain parts of a field sobriety test. For example, a person who has had a hip replacement may not be able to stand on one leg very effectively, or someone who has had a brain injury may not be able to balance well enough to complete the walk and turn test. Nystagmus is a condition where the eyes shake and while it occurs during intoxication, some people have nystagmus naturally.

Medications & Fatigue

If you are highly fatigued while driving or take certain medications, you may not perform well on field sobriety tests. However, this does not necessarily mean that you are intoxicated, although it may cause the officer who pulled you over to believe that you are.

Poor Instructions

Officers are supposed to give clear instructions on how to perform the field sobriety test and what is expected of you when you do. When an officer fails to give understandable instructions, this can lead to confusion and poor performance on the test, even without intoxication. In fact, many failed roadside sobriety tests amount to little more than misunderstood instructions.

When to Contact a DUI Defense Attorney

If you have been stopped and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol because you failed field sobriety tests, it’s important that you reach out to a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Office of J. Brian Kelley, we can examine the evidence available in your case and help you construct a solid defense as to why you may have failed the field sobriety tests.

Contact our office today for a free consultation to learn more about your rights after a DUI arrest by calling us at (208) 735-0030.


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