Can you challenge field sobriety and breath test results?

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2023 | DUI Defense |

If you’re reading this blog post, you know the heart pounding stress that you feel when you look in your rearview mirror to see the flashing blue and red lights of a police cruiser. But that oppressive feeling that you got at that time can pale in comparison to overwhelming anxiety that you can experience once you’ve been charged with a drunk driving offense. After all, a criminal conviction on these charges can impact your job, your relationship with your family and your children and even threaten to place you behind bars.

If you want to avoid those negative impacts from befalling you, you need to know how to protect yourself in a court of law. One way to go about doing that is challenging the prosecution’s evidence, which may include addressing field sobriety tests and breath test results that law enforcement relied upon when placing you under arrest.

How reliable are field sobriety tests?

Many police officers use standard field sobriety tests after making a traffic stop to help them identify signs of intoxication and develop probable cause to make an arrest. But even though these tests are “standardized,” they are riddled with weaknesses that could leave you looking guilty of drunk driving even though you are not.

There are many errors that can be made when administering these tests, including the following:

  • Poor instructions: If the police officer who administers your tests gives you bad instructions, you might fail the test simply for doing what you’re told to do.
  • Bad interpretation: The results of these tests depend on an officer’s perceptions. This means that interpretation of the test results can be misread. An officer may think they see jerking eye movements during a horizontal gaze nystagmus test or imbalance during the walk-and-turn test when those things actually don’t exist.
  • Lack of consideration for other factors: There can be a lot of factors outside of intoxication that contribute to your behavior. For example, your medical condition may cause you to lose your balance, or a recent injury may make it hard to stand on one foot. An officer may misinterpret these issues as signs of intoxication.

What about breath tests?

Even though field sobriety tests have a number of issues that can bring their validity into question, many police officers and prosecutors think that breath test results are infallible. This isn’t the case, though. These machines are often mishandled, stored haphazardly and calibrated improperly. Any of these issues can lead to an inaccurate test result.

If you’re confronting breath test results in your case, you’ll want to focus on the qualifications of the officer who administered the test and obtain specific details about how the test was administered. Even a seemingly minor error here could be enough to block the prosecution from using that evidence against you.

Don’t give up in your drunk driving case

A lot of people who are charged with drunk driving feel like they can’t overcome the evidence that’s mounted against them. As a result, they often submit to a plea deal without fully considering their defense options.

Don’t let yourself take that approach. Before making any decisions about your criminal defense, you should carefully analyze the facts of your case and how you might be able to use the law to your advantage. An attorney who has experience handling drunk driving cases can help you do that, assisting you in spotting issues that you may be able to exploit to achieve the outcome that you want. Hopefully, you can then fully protect your interests and your future.