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How Field Sobriety Test Errors Convict the Innocent

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If you have the misfortune of being pulled over on suspicion of committing a Virginia DUI, the officer will probably ask you to take field sobriety tests. Most people don't know that they can legally refuse to take these tests in Virginia. In fact, it's generally a good idea to refuse them.

Field sobriety tests take a number of different forms. Unfortunately, they can all suffer from inaccuracy or misrepresentation. Commonly used field sobriety tests include: 

  • The walk and turn test
  • The one leg stand test
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test 

Government studies show that sober people can often "fail" these tests in the eyes of the police.

For instance, factors like the terrain or the kinds of shoes you are wearing can affect field sobriety tests that rely on balance. Can you imagine how hard it would be to do a walk and turn test late at night on uneven pavement while wearing high heels? Unfortunately, officers do not usually take these situations into account.

Other tests, like the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (in which you follow a moving pen with your eyes, and the officer studies your eye movement for signs of inebriation), are often performed incorrectly.

Ultimately, there are a lot of reasons to doubt the validity of field sobriety tests. If you've been charged with a Virginia DUI on the basis of these tests, your Virginia DUI defense lawyer can and should question these "test" results as part of your DUI defense.

There is more information about field sobriety tests at our article library. 

Virginia DUI Lawyer Bob Battle has the experience and ability to help his clients use these errors to mount a successful DUI defense. To learn more about Virginia DUI, get a free copy of Bob Battle's consumer guide, How to Choose a DUI Lawyer in Virginia. Or, contact 804-673-5600 to schedule your legal consultation today.

Bob Battle
100% of my practice is devoted to serious traffic defense and criminal litigation in state and federal courts
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