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Assessing the Accuracy of Drunk Driving Tests  

 Posted on March 15, 2022 in DUI

Sonoma DUI LawyerCharges for driving under the influence can lead to heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, and in some cases, jail time. However, there are many reasons that DUI charges can be dismissed or reduced. Often, the evidence police use to arrest someone for DUI is flawed. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help defendants find inconsistencies and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against them. DUI tests including breath tests, blood tests, and field sobriety tests can be inaccurate for many different reasons.

Are Field Sobriety Tests Good Indicators of Intoxication?

If police suspect that someone is driving while intoxicated, they may ask the driver to perform a series of physical actions called field sobriety tests. The most common field sobriety tests include:

  • Walk and turn – The driver is asked to walk toe to heel in a straight line.

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus – The driver is asked to follow an object with his or her eyes while police look for jerking motions in the eyes that are indicative of intoxication.

  • Stand on one leg – The driver is asked to stand on one leg without falling over or losing their balance.

These tests are supposed to assess a person for intoxication by alcohol or drugs but it is possible for a sober person to fail these tests. Certain medical conditions and medications can cause vertigo or trouble balancing. Injuries or obesity can also impair a person’s ability to perform the procedures correctly. Furthermore, police that are not properly trained in how to administer these tests and evaluate a person for signs of intoxication may make mistakes that invalidate the results.

Are Breath Tests and Blood Tests Always Reliable?

Breath alcohol tests, often called breathalyzers, are often used to determine the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath. This information is used to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). Blood tests may also reveal the degree to which someone is intoxicated. However, these tests must be administered properly to be accurate. Testing equipment that is broken, not properly calibrated, or dirty can yield false results. Blood tests that are not administered and stored properly can be contaminated. Consequently, blood alcohol and breath alcohol tests are not always reliable indicators of intoxication.  

Contact a San Francisco DUI Defense Lawyer

Tests designed to evaluate a person for suspected drunk driving can be inaccurate. If you or a loved one were charged with DUI after failing a breath test, blood test, or field sobriety test, contact Napa criminal defense attorney Paul Burglin for help. Call Burglin Law Offices, P.C.  at 415-729-7300 for a free case consultation.




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