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How accurate are field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2018 | Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving Defense |

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense for driving under the influence of alcohol, it will be important to learn about the defense process and how you or the person charged can protect their rights. One element that can be important here is understanding the evidence used against the defendant. In a drunk driving case, this generally includes the results of some field sobriety tests.

As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, none of the tests approved for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are completely accurate. There may be multiple common health or medical conditions that impede your ability to execute the tasks as instructed by an officer. Even the mere fact of being overweight to the point of being clinically obese could prevent you from balancing perfectly on one leg. Some neurological conditions may mimic the eye jerking that is examined during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

The eye test is the most accurate of all three field sobriety tests but even still has an accuracy rate of only 77 percent. The walk and turn test is said to be accurate 68 percent of the time and the one-leg stand test has an accuracy rate of a mere 65 percent.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to let people in Minnesota know that the field sobriety tests used during a drunk driving investigation are not completely accurate and understand what factors may preclude them from successfully passing one or more of these tests.