A failed field sobriety test is not always proof of OVI

| Jun 11, 2019 | Dui Defense, Firm News |

Before you can be convicted of operating a vehicle impaired, the Ohio prosecutor must provide evidence that you were, in fact, intoxicated. If a law enforcement officer administered the standardized field sobriety tests and used the results as the basis for arresting you, you may have a solid argument against that “proof.” We at Triplett McFall Wolfe Law, LLC, often help people contest the outcome of field sobriety tests.

AAA explains that the battery of three tests often does correctly reveal that a driver is intoxicated. In fact, studies show that when administered correctly, they predict legal impairment more than 90% of the time.

But what causes all those false positives in a correctly administered test?

Horizontal gaze nystagmus is one indicator of intoxication, and the test is typically correct about 88% of the time. If you were intoxicated, then when you tracked the officer’s flashlight or pen with your eyes, at a certain point, your eyes may have jerked involuntarily. Your vision did not change when this happens, but the officer could see it. However, that involuntary jerking can also be caused by eye diseases, medications and a number of medical conditions. 

The officer likely asked you to stand on one leg and, beginning with 1,000, count forward by ones. He or she timed you for 30 seconds, watching for swaying or hopping, and noting when you put your foot down or held your arms out for balance. The inability to balance on one leg is very common, though. This indicator is only correct about 83% of the time.

Balance issues can affect your ability to walk heel-to-toe along a line on the roadway, too, but the officer also wanted to see if you would listen to the instructions and follow them exactly. About 79% of the people who fail the walk-and-turn test are legally drunk.

More information about failing a field sobriety test is available on our webpage.