Every study ever done on field sobriety tests notes that they can fail sometimes. Some of these studies indicate that they fail a significant amount of the time, or at least a percentage that is concerning to anyone facing arrest based on these tests. You would assume that they would have to be 100% accurate, but that is far from the case.
Why do the tests fail? The issue is just that they are not actually measuring your impairment, the way that a breath test measures the amount of alcohol in your system. Field sobriety tests are simply testing to see if you can complete certain tasks. If you cannot complete them for any reason at all, the officer might assume that you are impaired – even when that is not the case.
The walk-and-turn test
For instance, imagine that a police officer pulls you over one foggy night because they believe that you may be impaired. They ask you to get out and do the walk-and-turn test by walking to a certain point, turning around and coming back to them.
However, visibility is low because it’s foggy and dark out, and the side of the road is far from a smooth surface. Maybe you step in a pothole or trip on a rock. Maybe you just lose your footing because you can’t see, or maybe you’re simply nervous as you interact with the police officer. All of these are potential reasons why you could fail the walk-and-turn test, even if you haven’t had a drink in your life.
If you have been arrested, you can see why it’s so important to understand exactly what legal steps to take afterward to protect your future.