Driving under the influence is a serious legal offense in Tennessee and just about every other state. If you are convicted of or even arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can face a heavy fine, months in prison, and the suspension of your driver’s license.
The prospect of such a conviction should give you pause if you are stopped and given a field sobriety test by a police officer. Law enforcement officials carry out these tests to determine whether you have been drinking. One of the important things to remember is that most of these tests are not 100% accurate, and you can fail a field sobriety test even if you are perfectly sober.
The Problem with Field Sobriety Tests
The practice of conducting field sobriety tests is slowly fading out across the country. Most police departments prefer more accurate and scientific means of assessing a person’s sobriety. However, these tests are still given by police in Tennessee that may give a police officer reason to believe a driver is intoxicated. Because of this, you should be prepared for them if you travel the roads of the state regularly.
The three most common types of field sobriety tests include The Walk and Turn Test, The One Leg Stand Test, and The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test.
1. The Walk and Turn Test
If you are asked to do this test, the officer will give you a series of commands which you are supposed to be able to carry out perfectly if sober. The officer may ask you to walk in a straight line, heel to toe for 9 steps. They can then ask you to turn in a specific manner, keep your arms at your sides, look at your feet, and count out loud. Officers are told to issue these commands in rapid succession in order to test your mental acuity.
It can hard for even a sober person to pass this test. Many individuals do not comprehend instructions that are unfamiliar to them the first time, especially in a situation that could make them nervous. In other words, you can be perfectly sober and fail this test.
2. The One Leg Stand Test
This test has no scientific validity whatsoever. It has been tested and found to be 65% accurate in determining whether someone is under the influence of alcohol. Again, the test requires drivers to perform acts that most people—unless they are exceptionally limber and athletic—cannot do. The test requires you to raise your foot approximated 6 inches off the ground while keeping the bottom of your other foot parallel to the ground. With foot raised in the air, the driver is asked to count aloud from 1 to 30.
3. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
In this test, the officer moves a pen, pencil, or finger in front of you. The theory goes that your eye is supposed to jump in response if you have been drinking. This is one of the most inaccurate and unscientific of all the tests, as this specific response to that stimulus occurs naturally in people for at least 40 different reasons.
How a DUI Defense Attorney Can Help
If you have been arrested for DUI as a result of failing one of these tests, you should contact a DUI defense attorney immediately. Even if you were arrested after failing a more scientifically valid test such as a breathalyzer, all is not lost. The results of these devices can also be inaccurate. The device may have malfunctioned or may have been improperly used. Poor maintenance, product defect, poor officer training—any of these things can make the result of the breathalyzer untrustworthy.
The criminal defense attorney you hire will take a hard look at the reason for your arrest and the methods used to justify it. If the police used a field sobriety test, your attorney can challenge the accuracy and validity of it. There is a great and growing body of scientific evidence that invalidates the accuracy of these tests.
In the event you are arrested for DUI based on a field sobriety test, your challenge will be to remain silent until your attorney arrives. You may feel as though you have done something wrong, and the people who arrested you may pressure you into admitting that you were drinking under the influence of alcohol. You should not give in to this pressure. Failing a field sobriety test does not automatically mean you are guilty of a DUI. Once you obtain a criminal defense attorney you contacted arrives, they will immediately challenge your arrest based on such an assessment.
When it comes to your future, you do not want to take any chances. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Knoxville, make sure to get a seasoned criminal defense attorney in your corner to ensure your rights are defended.
Contact Law Office of Joseph A. Fanduzz at (865) 896-9971 for help defending your rights and protecting your future.