When a Missouri police officer suspects you of impaired driving, they will pull you over and try to validate their suspicions. That process typically involves asking you some questions and possibly asking you to perform field sobriety tests after exiting your vehicle.
How you perform on those tests may justify an officer’s request for a chemical breath test or their decision to arrest you. Your performance on those tests could also play a role in the prosecution’s case against you later.
Some people despair when they fail field sobriety tests or breath tests because they assume a conviction is inevitable. Can you challenge the results of field sobriety tests when defending against drunk driving charges?
There are many reasons to challenge field sobriety tests
The tests an officer asks you to perform and how they administer the test could help you defend against claims you performed poorly on the test later. Although there are numerous physical activities police officers could have you perform to gauge your chemical impairment, there are three tests considered standard in most jurisdictions.
These include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. If the officer administered sobriety tests other than the standardized field sobriety tests, you may have an easier time challenging the results of those tests.
Of course, it would be highly unfair if only the officer’s perspective mattered. Typically, for field sobriety tests to be admissible in criminal court, they need to occur on camera. If there isn’t video footage from the police cruiser or a body camera, then the officer’s recollections on their own may not be enough to use the tests as evidence in court.
Sometimes, drivers could provide a medical or personal explanation for why they behaved a certain way during testing. Finally, those who successfully challenge the legality of a traffic stop can prevent the inclusion of the evidence gathered during that stop, including the field sobriety tests.
Failed tests don’t guarantee a conviction. You need to understand how the state builds a case against you if you hope to defend yourself. Properly responding to impaired driving allegations can help you preserve your driver’s license, freedom and reputation after an unexpected arrest.