You’re pulled over late at night, and the officer is clearly suspicious you’ve been drinking. You’re asked to participate in one or two “simple” roadside sobriety tests to prove that you’re not driving while impaired.
If you’re like most drivers, you’re eager to avoid escalating the situation, so you may think about complying with the officer’s request – but you shouldn’t.
Roadside sobriety tests, which commonly include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-legged stand test and a “walk and turn” test, are so well-known for being flawed that drivers are under no obligation to submit to them.
What’s the problem with roadside sobriety testing?
In essence, the biggest problem is that the tests aren’t really “tests” at all. A test is something that you can objectively pass or fail – and these rely on an officer’s observations and subjective opinion. That leads to flawed results because:
- The conditions of the testing (at the side of the road, in the dark and during any kind of weather) can make it harder for the officer to fully observe the action.
- The officer directing the action may not have been properly trained in the first place.
- The driver being examined may have a hidden condition that affects their ability to perform to the expected standards. For example, someone with a sinus infection or an inner ear problem may have balance issues that prevent them from complying with directions.
- The officer may simply be prejudiced or have a biased opinion about the driver’s sobriety, which could color the officer’s judgment.
What’s the lesson here? Well, roadside sobriety testing is just bad science – and you shouldn’t let it affect your future. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, there are plenty of ways to challenge flawed evidence like this.