The holidays are here, and for many residents of South Dakota and elsewhere, this means celebrations that involve alcohol. Law enforcement is also aware of this, and they will be especially vigilant in the next few weeks to catch those who are too intoxicated to safely drive. If an officer pulls you over, he or she might ask you to take a field sobriety test. What you might not know is that even if you are completely sober, you might fail the test and receive a DUI charge.
How can you fail a field sobriety test despite not having anything to drink? First, you need to understand that the results of field sobriety tests depend on a police officer’s individual judgment. An officer will pay attention to your coordination and behavior, as well as your speech, facial expressions and eye movements. The following points illustrate a few ways you might not pass a field sobriety test:
- You might naturally have poor balance and coordination.
- You could be nervous or tired and have difficulty understanding or performing instructions.
- Allergies, medication and fatigue might contribute to your eyes looking red and puffy, which an officer could misinterpret as signs of intoxication.
- You could have an injury, illness or impairment that affects your speech or mobility, making you appear as if you had too much to drink.
During a field sobriety test, law enforcement will most likely ask you to stand on one leg and walk in a straight line without losing your balance or using your arms to steady yourself. Many people find these actions difficult while sober, let alone after a few drinks. Some studies, in fact, show field sobriety tests to not be as reliable as people might think. Unfortunately, it does not keep many people from false drunk driving convictions.