A field sobriety test is a series of physical and cognitive tasks that law enforcement uses to assess a driver’s level of intoxication. While these tests play a crucial role in detecting impaired drivers, numerous factors can negatively affect their accuracy. This raises questions about their reliability and the potential for false positives.
Here is some insight into five reasons why some individuals might fail these tests even when sober.
1. Physical conditions affecting balance and coordination
Certain physical conditions can negatively affect a person’s balance and coordination, leading to poor performance on a field sobriety test. Conditions like vertigo, arthritis or a previous injury might impede a person’s ability to successfully complete tasks such as standing on one leg or walking in a straight line.
2. Neurological and cognitive conditions
Neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or even severe nervousness, can affect a person’s performance on these tests. Cognitive conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other learning disabilities, can also have a similar impact.
3. Weather and road conditions
The weather and road conditions at the time of the test can significantly affect its outcome. Slippery or uneven surfaces, high winds or poor visibility might cause a person to lose balance or coordination during the test, resulting in a false positive.
4. Footwear and clothing
High heels, loose shoes or restrictive clothing might hinder a person’s balance and mobility, affecting their performance on the test.
5. Fatigue and stress
A tired or stressed individual might struggle with balance, coordination and focus, leading to poor performance on the test.
These factors highlight the need for additional testing and evidence when determining if a driver is under the influence.