After pulling a driver over for suspected DUI, a law enforcement official often administers several field sobriety tests, three of which are standard per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These tests intend to create probable cause for a DUI arrest and serve as evidence during prosecution. Results can be damning for anyone, particularly a driver with a disability.
Truths about Field Sobriety Testing
Many drivers think that they can pass field sobriety tests but the truth is that failure is the natural result. Some drivers are so brazen as to refuse to take these tests. Though many states do not have laws requiring a driver to submit to field sobriety testing, courts interpret the regulations as granting police officers the right to require drivers to perform these tests. Refusal provides evidence for the state and courts usually interpret refusal as an admission of intoxication.
Disabled Drivers and Field Sobriety Tests
What about drivers who are disabled? Are they expected to perform the standardized one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and other field sobriety tests even if their disabilities would prevent them from passing? Many states have exceptions for these individuals. However, the onus is on the driver to immediately bring the disability to the attention of the law enforcement official.
Prosecutors in DUI cases focus on mental and physical impairments of drivers. Though intoxication may cause physical impairment, so can certain disabilities. Field sobriety tests are inherently subjective, notwithstanding other factors such as a disability. Being disabled only increases the subjectivity and may prevent an individual from passing some or all of these tests. Skilled lawyers have successfully challenged field sobriety test results based on test taker disabilities.
Before taking any field sobriety tests, drivers should tell law enforcement officials about their disabilities. During training, officers learn that certain individuals should not take field sobriety tests. Included are people with hip and back injuries and individuals with mental impairments. Testing will result in a false positive, but this does not stop some officers. They trick drivers into taking the tests and the rest is usually bad for the drivers.
Experts claim that there is a 99 percent chance of a DUI arrest following a car stop, regardless of the results of field sobriety testing. Even so, disabled drivers should think carefully about submitting to these tests and if forced to do so should immediately contact a DUI attorney. DUIRights.com makes this easy to do through its free online DUI arrest evaluation form.