Last week, the Law Office of Sam Byrd discussed field sobriety tests on its legal blog. Field sobriety tests are the assessments that Tennessee law enforcement officials may use to determine if their suspicions of drivers' intoxication are correct. However, just as any test may contain problems or inaccuracies, issues in the execution and assessment of field sobriety tests may result in innocent individuals facing serious drunk driving charges.
For example, a driver who is asked to perform a walk and turn test on uneven ground may be set up to fail the assessment even if there is no alcohol in their system. The challenge of walking straight and in a heel to toe manner when one cannot establish strong footing is an unfair and inaccurate means of determining if they are impaired by alcohol.
Also, a driver who is asked to balance on one foot may be unable to do so if their condition is impacted by a medical condition or other normal state, such as by exhaustion or a common cold. A driver who cannot hold still on one foot because of congestion or illness may be wrongly assessed as drunk even if they are sober while performing the field sobriety test.
These hypothetical situations are mentioned only to demonstrate to readers just how wrong field sobriety tests can be. They also only highlight issues that may arise when conditions present for or in a driver impact the tests' accuracy. Law enforcement officials can and often do commit assessment errors when they ask drivers to complete field sobriety tests. The review of a field sobriety testing process can be an important step in preparing a drunk driving criminal defense strategy, and attorney Sam Byrd is available to new and existing clients to offer just such important legal services.