If the police suspect a driver is drunk, they may collect evidence by conducting sobriety tests. Sobriety tests help the police gather information that might be used against the driver in a court of law.
There are a few standard sobriety tests the police have at their disposal. These tests are not always accurate. It’s essential to learn about each kind of sobriety test and why they may lead to wrongful arrests. Here’s what you should know:
Understanding standardized field sobriety tests
The police may start with a physical examination called standardized field sobriety tests (SFST). There are three kinds of SFST:
- A horizontal gaze nystagmus test asks that the driver focus on a single moving point.
- A walk-and-turn test has the driver walking in a straight line, toe-to-heal.
- A one-legged stand test would have a driver lifting one leg slightly off the ground for several seconds.
While SFSTs are the most common, some tests are considered non-standardized. Non-standardized field sobriety tests (NSFST) may involve, for example, having a driver recite the alphabet backward while extending their arm and touching their nose.
SFSTs and NSFSTs may lead to inaccurate judgments if a driver suffers from an injury or disability. For example, a driver with a limp may struggle to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line.
Understanding chemical sobriety tests
A driver may be asked to take a breath, urine or blood chemical sobriety test. A chemical sobriety test evaluates the blood alcohol content (BAC) in the body.
The BAC in the body can increase depending on a few factors not directly related to the consumption of alcohol. For example, a driver may have used breath freshener or gum that contains trace amounts of alcohol. If they were asked to take a breath test, the BAC reading may be higher than normal.
When facing criminal charges, it’s important to have legal guidance behind you.