Although a law enforcement officer may think he or she has a valid reason to believe you may be driving under the influence of alcohol, there is a battery of tests that typically confirms or refutes the suspicion. Unfortunately, this Standardized Field Sobriety Test is not foolproof, and you run the risk of a DUI charge if you fail, even if you have not had a drop to drink.
AAA explains the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s three roadside tests that an officer may put you through, and what may cause a false positive.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
After a few drinks, your eyes may jerk as you attempt to track a moving object, such as the officer’s finger, flashlight or pen. However, you could have this same involuntary reaction under a number of other circumstances. For example, certain medications, eye diseases and a variety of other health conditions cause this tremor, and since you cannot see or feel it yourself, you may not know you have it.
When the officer instructs you in how to take this test, you need to pay careful attention. If you start before you have all the directives, you could begin with a failing mark. Balance is another factor, and the officer will take note if you put out your arms, sway, hop or stop as you follow a straight line, taking the nine steps heel to toe. Making the turn incorrectly or stepping off the line can also get you into trouble.
If you have balance issues because of medication, an inner ear problem, vertigo or some other health problem, you need to inform the officer before you begin the test.
One-leg stand test
This is another test of your balance, so the same health conditions may come into play as you attempt it. Although a person with a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent is likely to fail the test, you do not have to be under the influence to lack the coordination to stand with one foot six inches in the air while you count out loud for 30 seconds.
Because of the seriousness of a DUI charge on your record, it is important to contact an attorney right away if you are unable to pass the Standardized Field Sobriety Test.