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Field sobriety testing for intoxication can be misinterpreted


When a law enforcement official pulls over a New York driver because they suspect the driver has alcohol in their system, they may ask the driver to get out of their vehicle and to perform certain physical tests. These physical tests are not difficult for individuals of normal physical and mental capacities but for those who are intoxicated completion of them may be difficult. However, intoxication is not the only reason that a person may fail a field sobriety test.


For example, an officer may ask a driver to walk in a straight line and execute a clean turn before returning back to the point where they started. During the test the officer may watch for loss of balance, uncoordinated movements and other signs that alcohol is impairing the individual before them. Certain medical conditions can affect drivers' balance and without a drop of alcohol in their system a driver may fail a test such as this because they suffer from a medical condition.

Additionally, law enforcement officials may ask drivers to perform their field sobriety tests on uneven ground or in locations where completing the tests are challenging for everyone and not just those who are intoxicated. Law enforcement officials who are not properly trained on how to execute and interpret field sobriety tests may erroneously conclude that drivers are drunk and make false arrests on their assumptions.

Not all field sobriety test results offer truthful evidence of the state of intoxication in the drivers who were evaluated. For those who believe that mistakes were made in the execution of their tests, consultations with criminal defense attorneys may be necessary to help them fight their legal battles.

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Lerner & Lerner, P.C.

Former prosecutors with more than 50 years of combined experience

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