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Challenging the results of a field sobriety test in court

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2023 | DUI/OWI

Law enforcement officers use field sobriety tests (FSTs) to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, these tests are not always accurate, and you can challenge them in court. Here are some reasons why field sobriety tests are challenged in Maryland:

Questioning of the administration of the test

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established specific guidelines for administering FSTs. An officer must follow these guidelines for the test to be considered valid. If the officer does not follow the guidelines, the test results can be challenged in court. For example, suppose the officer did not correctly instruct the driver on how to perform the test or did not give the driver enough time to complete it. In that case, the test may be considered invalid.

Challenging the accuracy of the test

FSTs are not always accurate and can be affected by various factors, such as the driver’s physical condition, the weather, and the surface on which the test is performed. For example, suppose a driver has a medical condition that affects their balance. In that case, the results of a FST may not be accurate. In addition, the results may be inaccurate if a driver is tested on a wet or slippery surface.

Challenging the officer’s interpretation of the test results

As a criminal defense, the officer’s interpretation of the test results can also be challenged in court. For example, if the officer claims that the driver failed the test, but the driver argues that they passed, the court may have to decide who is right. Additionally, the officer’s observations of the driver, such as the driver’s speech or their ability to follow instructions, can be subject to challenge.

Challenging the reliability of the breath test

If a breath test was conducted, the results can be challenged based on the reliability of the breath testing device. For example, if the device was not properly calibrated or maintained, the results may not be accurate.

Even if found inaccurate, a DUI conviction is still possible

Challenging a field sobriety test in Maryland is a complex process. Even if the test was not administered correctly or the results were inaccurate, it’s still possible to be convicted of DUI. This depends on whether the prosecution can prove that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the arrest.