Being accused of any criminal wrongdoing can be scary, especially given the penalties involved. When it comes to a DUI, an accused individual may be confronted with the very real possibility of jail time, fines, license suspension, and irreparable damage to his or her reputation. Since there’s so much on the, those who are facing DUI charges need to carefully consider their DUI defense options and aggressively pursue the one that is right for them.
In some instances, this may mean challenging the validity of field sobriety tests. The results of these tests oftentimes serve as the foundation of a prosecutor’s case, but the fact of the matter is that these tests can be unreliable.
As an example, let’s look at the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This test involves a police officer holding a small object in front of an individual’s eyes and slowing moving it back and forth across the individual’s field of vision. During this test, the officer looks for certain clues that can be indicative of intoxication. An individual’s inability to smoothly follow the object, for example, may be a sign of intoxication. So, too, can the jerking of an individual’s eyes at certain points during the test.
Although law enforcement and prosecutors rely on this and other filed sobriety tests, they can be unreliable. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, for example, is only reliable about three-fourths of the time. In many instances an officer gives improper instructions to a driver that leads to inaccurate results, or an individual’s medical condition may account for the signs observed by an officer. In other instances an officer just fails to appropriately administer the test.
Given the error-rate associated with field sobriety tests, individuals who have been accused of drunk driving may want to think about whether challenging the validity of these tests’ results in in their best interests. Experienced criminal defense attorneys stand ready to assess DUI cases and exploit weaknesses in the prosecution’s cases.