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Challenging the accuracy of field sobriety tests

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is against the law in Massachusetts. Performing a field sobriety test is voluntary if law enforcement officers request them when they pull you over. However, if you refuse to take one, the consequences may include spending the night in jail. At Attorney John B. Seed, we have experience representing clients who have failed these tests.

 According to Field Sobriety Tests, there are three standardized tests recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: the one leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus and the walk and turn. Many experts believe that these measures are subjective and unreliable when relied upon to establish proof of intoxication. They require the subjects to perform familiar tasks in a way that is unfamiliar. Most people are not confident in unusual circumstances. As such, the likelihood of failing the tests increase.

Officers receive training in the proper administration of these tests. When conducting the test, if they deviate from the given guidelines or do not grade them correctly, the results may be inaccurate. In situations when the case goes to court, results can be contested, and the case dismissed.

Many medical conditions could prevent you from passing the test including inner ear infections, being significantly overweight and back or leg injuries. It is unlikely the officer could determine if that is the cause for the failure, even if they followed all the guidelines. The performance on the field sobriety tests, meant to establish impaired driving, may be deemed inadmissible. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.


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