Here’s How to Challenge a Field Sobriety Test

The battery of field sobriety tests is a crucial component of DUI arrests in Virginia. This is the series of tests, designed to measure coordination and motor skills, that a police officer administers before deciding whether to whip out his breathalyzer and test your level of intoxication. Usually, the battery consists of three tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, in which the officer asks you to track a slowly moving pen or flashlight; a walk-and-turn test, in which you have to walk a straight line heel-to-toe; and a one-leg-stand test, in which you have to, well, stand and balance on one leg.

The trouble with these tests, as you may have guessed, is that a) some people have better vision than others, especially at close range; b) some people are better coordinated than others; and c) a significant number of people suffer from chronic medical conditions that can interfere with their ability to perform these tests. (For example, tremors caused by the early stages of Parkinson's disease might not disqualify you from driving a car, but they may well be interpreted by an officer as a sign of intoxication.)

One complication with challenging a field sobriety test in Virginia on medical grounds, or on the grounds that you're simply a klutz, is that failing this test means you'll be administered a breathalyzer—and this will either show that you are or are not intoxicated. Still, an incorrectly administered, or incorrectly interpreted, field sobriety test can be all an experienced lawyer needs to have your Virginia DUI charge dismissed.

Have questions? Call the Virginia DUI attorneys at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman at 888-783-9701 for a free consultation today.

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