Roadside Sobriety Tests In Alabama
In Alabama—and across the United States—law enforcement officers rely on roadside sobriety tests to help them identify and apprehend drunk drivers. However, because these tests are highly subjective, they do not always deliver accurate results, and many motorists are falsely charged with driving under the influence (DUI) as a result. If you were recently arrested for DUI after failing one or more sobriety tests, it is best to discuss your results with an experienced attorney.
What Are Roadside Sobriety Tests And How Do They Work?
In most cases, if an officer suspects a driver is under the influence of alcohol, he or she will ask you to perform a series of seemingly simple exercises—such as walking an imaginary line or balancing on one foot, for example. Although these so-called tests are supposed to allow the officer to evaluate the driver’s motor skills and cognitive abilities, they are actually designed for failure and, more often than not, their results will be used as evidence against you.
Only three tests have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) –the one-leg stand, walk-and-turn, and horizontal nystagmus tests (the “follow-the-pen” with your eyes exercise). Unfortunately, many officers continue to administer tests that the NHTSA has deemed unreliable for identifying drunk drivers (these are known as non-standardized sobriety tests). You should always let your attorney know if the officer who arrested you administered any non-standardized test—such as those that involve counting backwards, reciting the alphabet, or touching your nose with your finger, for example.
Challenging Sobriety Tests
There are many ways to challenge a roadside sobriety test. First and foremost, if the test was not administered correctly, the results may be deemed unreliable. You may also be able to challenge your test results if the officer did not provide the proper testing instructions. Certain environmental factors—such as weather and traffic conditions—as well as personal characteristics, such as your weight, age, and physical disabilities, can also affect your performance on many roadside sobriety tests.