Licensed to Practice in Colorado and the United States District Court for the District of Colorado

What are field sobriety tests and can I challenge them?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Drunk Driving

If a police officer stops you and suspects that you are driving under the influence (DUI), they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests. Officers use field sobriety tests to assess your physical and cognitive abilities. Often, these tests serve as evidence in a DUI case.

However, there are ways to challenge field sobriety tests in court, as these tests are not always reliable.

How do field sobriety tests work?

Field sobriety tests assess a driver’s physical and cognitive abilities. For example, to see if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, an officer will ask you to follow a moving object, usually a flashlight or a pen, with your eyes. The officer will look for involuntary eye movements that may indicate impairment.

Additionally, an officer might ask for a walk-and-turn test in which you will walk heel-to-toe along a straight line, turn around and walk back. Another test is the one-leg stand in which you, the driver, will stand on one foot while counting aloud.

Can I challenge a field sobriety test in court?

Yes, many factors can affect your performance on these field sobriety tests, including physical condition, age and weight. When administering these tests, police officers must adhere to strict guidelines to conduct a valid test. If they do not follow the proper procedures, the tests become invalid.

Similarly, other external factors, such as uneven terrain or poor lighting in the area, can affect your performance.

If asked to complete a field sobriety test, you have the right to refuse to perform these tests without penalty for your refusal.