A field sobriety test is a set of physical tasks that a person may be asked to perform if they are suspected of drunk driving by an Indiana law enforcement officer. There are three field sobriety tests that help law enforcement evaluate the driver’s balance, coordination, and focus, which are all qualities that can be negatively impacted by alcohol in a person’s system. Common field sobriety testing assessments include:
- Walk and turn: A driver walks a straight line, turns, and returns to their starting spot.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus: A driver looks to the side and is evaluated for irregular rapid movement in the eyes.
- One leg stand: A driver stands on one leg with the opposite foot lifted and holds their balance.
Despite the prevalent use of field sobriety testing in the United States, many flaws can impact the veracity of the results.
Officer training and knowledge
One way that field sobriety testing can be flawed is if it is administered by an officer who does not have the proper training to execute and assess the assessments. Subjectivity in an untrained individual’s perception may lead to drivers being identified as drunk when they are in fact sober. When an unauthorized officer administers field sobriety testing, the results may be error-filled and damaging to the innocent driver.
Poor location for assessment
Another way that field sobriety testing can become flawed is if an officer picks a hilly or uneven place for a driver to perform their testing. A sober driver may struggle to walk in a straight line on ground that is unstable or uneven, and they may also be unable to pick one foot off the ground in similar conditions. Where testing is performed can impact the outcomes of the assessments.
There are many ways that field sobriety testing can be problematic. If such testing was used in a drunk driving arrest, a driver may have options to challenge the permissibility of the testing in their hearing. A criminal defense attorney can advise them of their options for seeking justice against wrongful drunk driving charges.