What are field sobriety tests, and are they accurate?

North Carolina residents suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are usually stopped by police and asked to submit to certain testing. Breath testing is common, but so are the standard field sobriety tests. What are they, and are they accurate?

Three field sobriety tests are generally accepted and utilized by law enforcement officers across the country. They are the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. All of these allow officers to check for physical and mental signs of impairment, such as the inability to:

  • Balance
  • Follow directions
  • Following a moving object

Are these tests accurate? Many believe they are, but the truth is, they are highly subjective. In many cases, the results are tossed out for one reason or another — such as administrator error. If the results of field sobriety testing are ultimately rejected in court, criminal charges for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol may be reduced, if not dismissed entirely.

The consequences associated with a DWI conviction in North Carolina can be significant. Jail time, fines, loss of driving privileges — it all adds up and can do a lot of damage to an individual’s personal and professional life. Thankfully, anyone facing DUI charges has the right to defend themselves, and that is something they do not have to do on their own. With the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, any evidence offered against the accused — such as results of sobriety testing — may be questioned, which may bring information to light that proves beneficial to his or her case.

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