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Don't let the results of field sobriety tests get you down

Impaired driving is not something that the state of Arizona takes lightly. If a court convicts you, the potential consequences can be rather serious -- in some cases life-altering. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in fighting your case. One defense strategy that is often effective is questioning the results of field sobriety tests.

Why would this be a possible defense strategy? Won't the court take the word of an officer over the word of someone accused of impaired driving?

The problem with field sobriety tests

While many people believe that field sobriety tests are extremely accurate in determining if impairment is an issue, these tests are not without their faults. If police administer only one of the standardized tests, the accuracy rate is only believed to be 47 percent. If one completes all three tests, the accuracy rating supposedly increases to 82 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The problem with the three standard field sobriety tests -- the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze mystagmus, and the walk and turn -- is that they are all subjective. Their results are based on the administering officer's judgment. This means that human error can be an issue. The court knows this.

Question validity

If you have concerns about test administration, you have the right to question the validity of your results. In order to do this, it will be necessary to review police reports and the dash cam recording of your traffic stop. If you can identify any errors in the administration of the tests, this can help you fight your case.

Other than test administration errors, can anything else affect test results?

Yes. There are a number of factors that can skew test results. These include your age, weight and shoes worn while performing the tests. Medical conditions can also contribute to false readings. A few include:

  • Tremors
  • Nerve damage
  • Inner ear conditions
  • Anxiety

Of course, to use a medical condition as a defense strategy, you will need to provide proof of diagnosis to the court.

Let an experienced attorney help you

Fighting a DUI charge filed based on sobriety test results is not necessarily a simple task. However, you should not let the results of any field sobriety tests get you down as these tests are prone to human error. As such, it may be possible have tests results rendered inaccurate. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to review the details of your case, question test validity and any other evidence offered against you, and help you pursue a legal course that will help you achieve the best outcome possible for your circumstances.

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