Things to Know About Field Sobriety Tests

Criminal Law
Driver's License Restoration
Things to Know About Field Sobriety Tests

Things to Know About Field Sobriety Tests

by Van Den Heuvel Law Office

A man blowing into a breathalyzer representing how our Michigan DUI lawyers can defend you.

A lot of things happen when a person is pulled over for drunk driving in Grand Rapids. The officer will ask the driver questions, take their driver’s license, insurance, and registration, and may even ask the driver to submit to a breathalyzer test. In Michigan, all drivers are required to submit to chemical tests that involve the breath, blood, or urine. 

However, a police officer may also ask a suspected DUI driver to submit to field sobriety tests, and motorists are not required to submit to these tests. Below are a few of the most important facts about field sobriety tests that every driver in the state should know.

Field Sobriety Tests are Not Accurate

Law enforcement officers typically use field sobriety tests to validate their suspicions that a motorist is driving while impaired. The three most common tests include the one-leg stand, the walk and turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these are the only three tests that have any degree of accuracy. Still, an officer’s bias and other factors can negatively impact the effectiveness of these tests.

People often have medical conditions that cause them balance problems that can interfere with a field sobriety test. Tests are also often conducted by the side of the road. The close proximity to traffic can make individuals nervous as they perform tests, and also prohibit them from fully hearing the instruction provided by the officer. These are just a few of the problems associated with field sobriety tests. Truthfully, there are many factors that can cause field sobriety test results to not be accurate.

In Michigan, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is the only test the courts deem scientifically acceptable. During this test, an officer will shine a light into the subject’s eyes and ask them to follow it as they move the light from side to side. If the pupil does not jerk during the movement, the test is considered negative. If the pupil does jerk, it is considered positive and can result in DUI charges.

Field Sobriety Tests Must be Administered Properly

One of the biggest problems with field sobriety tests is that law enforcement often fails to administer them properly, and that can result in a false positive. The only way to determine if a test was administered properly is to request the video footage many police departments are requiring officers to record. Even when this evidence is obtained, it is very difficult to see the movement of the pupil during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

A lawyer can request a copy of the video footage recorded during the stop to determine if field sobriety tests were administered properly. If not, a lawyer will also file a motion to suppress or dismiss.

Our Michigan DUI Lawyers Can Help With Your Charges

If you are facing DUI charges after a field sobriety test that was not properly administered, our Grand Rapids DUI lawyers can help. At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we know that you have rights and will ensure they are upheld. When working on your case, we will also subpoena any evidence relevant to your case and work to build a defense for your case. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.



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