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Mistakes and problems can affect field sobriety tests

As some readers may not know, field sobriety tests are physical assessments that law enforcement officials implement to determine if drivers are operating their vehicles while intoxicated. Many jurisdictions, including New York, use several standardized tests to examine drivers' sobriety and, despite the relative common application of these assessments, mistakes are sometimes made. When problems arise in the field sobriety testing process, individuals may be wrongly accused of driving while drunk.

For example, one test that is often used to assess a driver's sobriety is the one leg stand. This seemingly simple test requires a subject to stand on one leg and hold their balance before switching to the other side. However, several different factors can impact its results.

First, if a law enforcement official asks the driver to stand on uneven ground, the subject of the test may be at a significant disadvantage. Ground that is not flat may cause a person to lose their balance even if they are sober. Also, any medical conditions present in the driver may affect their capacity to successfully perform the test, such as illnesses, injuries or the consumption of medications that may influence their coordination and balance.

Law enforcement officials can and do make mistakes when executing field sobriety tests. Although perfect testing conditions are not required, the conditions under which a driver is asked to perform should be fair. Individuals who have been arrested for drunk driving due to the results of their field sobriety tests may want to talk about their experiences with an attorney.

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