Ernenwein & Johnson, LLP

What are field sobriety tests used for?

If you or someone you know has been arrested for and charged with a drunk driving offense in California, it will be important to learn as much as possible about the investigation and defense process. People in this situation should always remember than an arrest and a criminal charge does not guarantee that they will be convicted of a crime. One thing that can be important at this time is the type of testing used during the arrest process.

Most people are asked to take field sobriety tests before they may even be asked to submit to any type of chemical testing. As explained by, these tests cannot prove that you are intoxicated. In fact, that are not even intended to do so. Instead, field sobriety tests are designed to collect enough evidence to allow an officer to legally place you under arrest and charge you with driving under the influence.

All three of the field sobriety tests used have known inaccuracy rates. The eye test is the most accurate with a 77% accuracy rate. The one-leg stand test is the least accurate with a 65% accuracy rate. The walk and turn test has a stated accuracy rate of 68%. Several physical or mental health issues can interfere with a person's ability to pass one or more of these tests.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give residents in California an overview of the purpose of field sobriety tests in a drunk driving investigation, and to educate people about their potential lack of accuracy.

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