Forward. Thinking. Lawyers.

Helping Clients in Indiana County and Across Pennsylvania

Are field sobriety tests always accurate?

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Most people have probably seen a field sobriety test on shows, but many of these TV stereotypes are not depicted realistically. Typically, field sobriety tests get administered when an officer is trying to establish probable cause for an arrest.

When doing these tests, there are generally three stages:

  • Stage 1: The officer holds an object in front of the suspect and waves it around to look for errors in a person’s eye movement.
  • Stage 2:The officer tests their ability to walk in a straight line while taking instructions.
  • Stage 3:The officer assesses their ability to balance themselves by standing on one leg with minimal to no support.

Test accuracy has come into question

However, some are beginning to question the validity of these tests. According to a notable DUI defense organization, none of the field tests used in a drunk driving investigation are entirely accurate. The most credible is the eye movement test, which has an accuracy rate of 77%.

The least accurate is the leg balance test, which only got an accuracy rate of 65%; the walking test received an accuracy rate of 68%. Other factors can come into play that do not involve intoxication.

While field sobriety tests have helped identify countless individuals driving under the influence, plenty others have failed it despite being sober. Sadly, an officer’s intentions can also impact the objectivity of the test. For instance, some officers may automatically assume the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and put them under arrest regardless of the test results.

DUI charges can cause future harm

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but instead to give people an understanding of the three tests used in DUI investigations. For those facing DUI charges, there is legal assistance available.