Everything You Need to Know About DUI Field Test Errors

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Do you believe there were field test errors during your DUI arrest? Our DUI defense attorney at Philip Kim Law, P.C., can help you contest the charges. Call us now!


Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.

Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.

Published on September 29, 2023.


What Is the Purpose of DUI Field Tests?

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) field tests are standardized field sobriety tests law enforcement officers use to assess whether a driver might be impaired by alcohol or drugs. The purpose of these tests is to help officers establish probable cause.

When administered correctly, these tests can help prevent accidents that may occur due to drunk driving. They may also provide the evidence needed in court by the prosecution team. However, field sobriety tests are not always accurate.

Over the last couple of years, many people have questioned the reliability and accuracy of these tests. The tests are faulty, highly subjective, and hard to pass even when sober.

If you are facing a DUI charge based on a failed field sobriety test, there might be a way out. With the help of our lawyers, you can decide the accuracy of these tests.

How Do DUI Field Tests Work?

Field sobriety tests are usually simple physical or cognitive tests that drivers have to pass to prove sobriety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created standardized procedures to improve test accuracy.

Police officers can use any of the following three standardized field sobriety tests at DUI checkpoints:

Walk and Turn Test

The police will ask you to walk in a straight line with your hands at your sides, heel to toe. You will then turn around and walk back when you reach the end of the line. Officers are looking for an improper turn, staggering, and other issues with maintaining a straight line.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

A police officer will beam a flashlight in your face while moving an object laterally. You are expected to keep your gaze on the object. With this test, officers search for involuntary jerking in the eyes as indicators of alcohol impairment.

One Leg Stand Test

During the test, a police officer will request that you stand on one foot for about 30 seconds. During the 30 seconds, you are to remain balanced on one leg. Swaying or resting may be a sign that you are intoxicated.

What Happens if You Fail Sobriety Tests?

If a driver or motorist fails three or more standardized field sobriety tests, they likely have a 0.1% blood alcohol content, according to the NHTSA.

After failing field sobriety, you’ll likely take a breath or blood test. You’ll be arrested if the breath test shows a BAC of 0.08% or higher. If you are younger than 21, the maximum BAC level is 0.02%.

Sometimes, the police might also require blood tests to confirm your blood alcohol concentration. Your BAC test results will be used against you in court.

DUI Field Sobriety Test Accuracy

Even when properly done, standardized field sobriety testing does not give 100% accurate results. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGNT), for example, has an accuracy of 88%. The one-leg stand test has an accuracy of 83%. The walk-and-turn test has the lowest accuracy, with only 79%.

As a result, field sobriety test results can not be used alone in a DUI investigation. Ideally, they should be used in addition to other BAC tests, like a chemical test.


Can I Challenge Field Test Results in Court?


Yes, you can challenge field sobriety test results in court if your Georgia DUI Case is based on the results of such a test. You have the right to present a defense and challenge the accuracy of those test results during your legal proceedings.

Here are a few ways you might challenge field test results for a Georgia DUI Drugs case:

  1. Accuracy of the Tests. You can question the tests’ accuracy. Field sobriety tests, while standardized, can be influenced by various factors. Your defense can argue that these factors could have affected your performance.
  2. Officer Training and Administration. NHTSA Guidelines require that the police offer administer the test properly for the best results. If the officer failed to follow instructions, the results may not be valid. Your defense attorney might question the officer’s training and adherence to the guidelines.
  3. Physical and Medical Conditions. Some physical or medical conditions could affect your ability to perform certain tasks. You may have a strong case if you provide medical evidence that your performance was compromised for medical reasons.
  4. Nervousness or Anxiety: Nervousness or anxiety during a traffic stop can lead to poor performance on field sobriety tests. Your defense can argue that your test results were influenced by anxiety rather than impairment.
  5. Lack of Objective Evidence. Field sobriety tests are based on subjective observations made by the officer. A lack of objective evidence can make it difficult for the prosecution to prove your impairment beyond a reasonable doubt. Objective evidence can be camera footage or eyewitnesses.
  6. Expert Witnesses. Consider bringing in expert witnesses to testify about these tests’ limitations and inaccuracies. Such professionals can be medical professionals or experts in field sobriety testing.

Remember that the specific legal strategies and options available to you can vary based on the circumstances of your case. It’s essential to consult with a qualified DUI defense attorney. A good lawyer will provide personalized advice based on the details of your situation.

Get Help With Your DUI Cases

DUI field sobriety testing helps assess impairment and establish probable cause during arrests. However, their accuracy and reliability have been questioned over the years. This is due to methodological flaws, subjectivity, and potential false positives.

At Philip Kim Law, P.C., our unwavering commitment to criminal defense resonates with advocating for your rights. Our seasoned DUI defense attorneys possess the experience needed to strategically challenge the accuracy of these tests. By doing so, we ensure your legal process remains equitable and just.

If you’re confronted with a DUI charge stemming from field sobriety tests, don’t navigate this complex journey alone. Reach out to us for support. Our adept team is poised to evaluate your case, meticulously scrutinize test results, and construct a formidable defense tailored to your unique situation. Trust Philip Kim Law, P.C. to champion your rights and secure your future.

Reach out now for a confidential consultation and secure your best possible outcome.

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Philip Kim Law, P.C.
368 West Pike Street, Suite 203
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(678) 203-6968
Fax: (678) 273-3501
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