Health conditions can skew a field sobriety test

August 4, 2022
Health conditions can skew a field sobriety test

The idea behind a field sobriety test is that testing the balance and coordination of a driver can reveal whether the person possesses an excessive amount of alcohol in his or her system. However, Springfield motorists may fail a field sobriety test for reasons other than having a few too many drinks. Any number of personal health factors can skew the results of a test.

Some field sobriety tests require walking in a straight line, such as the walk and turn test, or standing up on one leg, known as the one leg test. These tests evaluate the balance of a driver. However, if a motorist suffers from balance issues, it can cause the test to result in a false positive. The Mayo Clinic identifies vertigo, inner ear problems, and motion sickness as a few examples of balance disorders, any of which can make it hard to walk or stand straight during a test.

Very Well Mind describes other health issues that can throw off sobriety tests. The Horizontal gaze nystagmus test is used to track the jerking of the eye of a driver. Usually, a person can follow a moving object easily, but if someone is under alcoholic influence, the jerking of the eyes will become more exaggerated. However, a HGN test can be thrown off if a person has vision problems or is simply wearing contact lenses.

There are other factors that can create a false positive or otherwise make it impossible to pass a sobriety test. Some people have disabilities or injuries that do not allow them to walk in a straight line. Age can also be a factor, as older persons may suffer from poorer coordination. A psychological condition or taking regular medication can also make it hard to properly coordinate body movement.

An officer, before administering the test, will typically ask if there is any reason that you would not be able to pass the test. If you were to respond yes and explain your reason, the officer will note your explanation in the arrest report. Making sure the officer has recorded your explanation can be of assistance if you contest the results of a sobriety test in court.


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