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Are roadside sobriety tests designed to be failed?

At some point in everyone's educational life, there is a teacher who seems to derive great satisfaction from administering tests that almost no one can pass. Tests that are designed to be failed may not seem to serve any purpose in the classroom, but for law enforcement officers looking for drunk drivers, it provides an advantage they would rather you did not know about.

Standardized roadside field sobriety tests, which police officers around the country use to determine whether a driver should be arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, require a level of physical and mental agility that most motorists simply do not possess, even when they have not consumed alcohol.

The most important fact to know about roadside field sobriety tests is they are voluntary in almost every situation. Unless a police officer has a warrant, motorists may refuse to submit to a roadside field sobriety test without negatively affecting his or her case. Taking such action will likely result in an arrest, but an arrest may have been likely in any event.

A Closer Look At Roadside Tests

There are three primary tests police nationwide use when administering roadside sobriety tests:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
  • Walk-and-turn
  • One-leg stand

Scientific research has determined that each of these tests have a significant degree of inaccuracy built into them. In fact, police officers themselves require multiple days of training to learn how to administer and pass these tests so they can demonstrate the tests properly to subjects. What's more, an officer may be asked to demonstrate one or more of the tests in court. Failing a demonstration in front of a jury would be harmful to the state's case, to say the least.

In addition to requiring abnormal balance and agility, there are hidden aspects to each of the three tests that put subjects at a disadvantage. A knowledgeable attorney who is familiar with the standardized tests can help expose at trial the hidden aspects that put motorists at a disadvantage. If you face a drunk driving charge, it is always wise to work with an experienced attorney who can minimize the impact it has on your driving record and your life.

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