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Can I Challenge Field Sobriety Tests in a Wisconsin OWI Stop?

 Posted on October 17, 2019 in DUI/OWI

Milwaukee County drunk driving defense lawyer

When you are stopped by a police officer it is because he or she believes that you have been driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it can be a daunting experience. If the officer already suspects that you are intoxicated before you are even pulled over, the entire interaction will be to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to place you under arrest for OWI. Once the officer approaches you, he or she will be using his or her senses to determine whether or not you are impaired. The officer will be looking for bloodshot eyes, unsteady hand movements, slurred speech, unusual statements, and the smell of alcohol or other drugs. He or she will likely ask you to step out of the vehicle to complete field sobriety testing, which will be used to establish probable cause for an arrest. But how accurate are those tests, and can the results be challenged?

What Is a Field Sobriety Test?

Field sobriety tests are conducted during a traffic stop to determine whether or not a person who is driving is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. There are many different types of field sobriety tests, but there are only three different standardized field sobriety tests. These include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test

  • Walk-and-Turn Test

  • One-Leg Stand Test

These standardized field sobriety tests have been used for decades and are often the basis of placing someone under arrest for driving while under the influence.

Accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests

The accuracy of field sobriety tests has been questioned for as long as they have been around. In the late 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted research on a variety of field sobriety testing methods. This is how the three standardized field sobriety tests became standardized tests that almost every police department uses. The study found that the HGN test was accurate 77 percent of the time; the walk-and-turn test was accurate 68 percent of the time; and the one-leg stand test was accurate 65 percent of the time, but these accuracy levels are based on a variety of factors. 

Challenging Field Sobriety Tests

Many people have asserted that the field sobriety tests are not as accurate as they were once believed to be. One of the reasons why they are not necessarily good indicators of intoxication is because everyone is different. There could be underlying reasons why a person could fail field sobriety testing but is still able to safely operate a motor vehicle. Another reason is that the accuracy of the test results also depends on the officer who is administering the tests. There is enough room for error in field sobriety testing that an argument could be made that someone who failed the tests did so for reasons other than intoxication.

Contact a Waukesha County OWI Defense Attorney 

If you have been pulled over by police because it was suspected that you were driving while under the influence, you need immediate legal representation from a tenacious Milwaukee County drunk driving defense lawyer. At the Bucher Law Group, LLC, we understand the implications that an OWI arrest can have on your life. Even if you are not convicted of an OWI, you will still have a criminal record that will follow you. Call our office today at 262-303-4916 to schedule a complimentary consultation.







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