If a law enforcement officer has pulled you over and suspects you of driving under the influence, he or she may ask you to submit to one or more roadside sobriety tests. Essentially, these tests are designed to give an officer probable cause for your arrest. Field sobriety tests work by examining a person’s physical coordination, which generally will be compromised if the person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
These tests are not foolproof, nor are they accurate gauges of a person’s BAC. They are only meant to give the officer probable cause for your arrest. Once arrested, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC. However, if the field sobriety tests were administered incorrectly or did not follow prescribed guidelines, your attorney may be able to call into question the tests’ reliability.
There are only three types of field sobriety tests that are recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: the one-leg stand test, the walk-and-turn test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Of these three, the state of Tennessee only recognizes the horizontal gaze nystagmus test as scientifically valid.
You should inform your attorney of any and all field sobriety tests that were administered during your traffic stop, detailing everything the officer directed you to do.
Your attorney may be able to call into question the qualifications of the officer who administered a field sobriety test. Because the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is recognized as “scientific,” only an expert witness may testify to the validity of the test’s results. If the officer who administered the test did not have the proper education, experience or training, the test may be ruled invalid.
An experienced attorney also may be able to question the validity of the traffic stop altogether. If the traffic stop was not conducted lawfully—that is, if the arresting officer did not have probable cause to pull you over in the first place—then the results of any field sobriety tests may be invalid. This could call into question the validity of the entire case.
Marcos Garza is a highly-trained, experienced defense attorney who has devoted himself to the practice of DUI law. If you have been charged with DUI in Tennessee, request a free consultation with Mr. Garza at the Garza Law Firm by calling (888) 680-7554.