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Field sobriety tests are not always accurate

It doesn't matter if you've had one drink or several, if you're pulled over for suspicion of DUI in Roanoke there's a good chance the officer will ask you to step outside your vehicle. From there, you'll be asked to take at least one field sobriety test.

There's no denying the fact that a field sobriety test can help an officer determine if you're too drunk to drive. However, you shouldn't assume that these tests are 100 percent accurate.

It's possible you could fail a field sobriety test while sober, known as a false positive. There are many potential reasons for an inaccurate result, including:

  • Bad coordination: For example, if you have bad coordination, you may not be able to pass the walk and turn test even when you're 100 percent sober. Combine this with your nerves, and it's easy to see how you could fail.
  • Vertigo: Some people suffer from vertigo and/or related conditions, making it difficult to maintain their balance. If you have vertigo and attempt to pass the one-leg stand test, there's a good chance you'll fail.
  • Poor instructions: Taking a field sobriety test at any time is nerve-racking. When you combine your nerves with poor instructions by the officer, you may have a difficult time understanding what's asked of you. Even with training, some officers make mistakes when explaining tests and determining the results.

What can you do?

If you're asked to take a field sobriety test, you have a few options:

  • Comply with the request: If you're sober and confident you can pass each test, you can comply with the request, prove that you're not drunk and move on.
  • Explain your concerns: While most officers have heard every excuse, don't hesitate to share your concerns about passing the field sobriety test. For example, you could tell the officer about your medical condition and how it impacts your ability to successfully complete the test.
  • Decline: You are not required by law to take a field sobriety test. You can refuse it without any consequences, so this is often the best approach. When you refuse, while also remaining quiet, you don't give the officer additional evidence to use against you.

Police officers want you to believe that field sobriety tests are 100 percent accurate, but this isn't true. If you were arrested for DUI, learn more about your legal rights in Virginia and settle on a defense strategy that can help avoid a conviction.

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