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Can you fail a field sobriety test while sober?

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2015 | Drunk Driving

During the upcoming holiday season, you may see an increase in law enforcement attempts to prevent drunk driving and catch intoxicated drivers. One of the tactics that police officers commonly use in North Dakota and other states is the field sobriety test. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test, as outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, involves three different types of tests that may help an officer detect signs of intoxication. These include the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

According to NBC 29 News, it is not only possible, but may be surprisingly easy, to fail a field sobriety test even if you haven’t had anything to drink. Three sober people who agreed to take the test as an experiment reported having trouble performing some of the actions. One had trouble balancing, another had difficulty during the one-leg stand despite claiming he had good balance and one said that she was sleep-deprived and did not properly follow the walk-and-turn instructions.

Law enforcement officials claim that officers are trained to recognize the differences between someone who was driving while intoxicated and someone who is just tired or nervous. However, the DUI Foundation claims that the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is accurate only 77 percent of the time, the walk-and-turn test is just 68 percent accurate and the one-leg stand has only a 65 percent accuracy rate. This information is not intended as legal advice, but should help you understand that you may face a DUI charge after a field sobriety test even if you are sober.


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