Field Sobriety Tests

Challenge the Field Sobriety Test Results

A failed field sobriety test does not have to equate to a drunk driving conviction. If you have been arrested after being pulled over for drunk driving, talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Reddin & Singer, L.L.P.. We have the experience, trial skills, and determination to fight for our clients — at the negotiating table and in the courtroom.

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Physical field sobriety tests are subjective and unfair. Many of the regularly used tests are set up for failure. In fact, many of the tests frequently cannot be passed by someone who is sober. Our Milwaukee OWI/DUI defense attorneys work hard to challenge the field sobriety test and, when applicable, educate the jury about the unreliability of such evidence.

Standardized field sobriety tests that are frequently used by Milwaukee law enforcement officers include:

  • Walk and turn: The conditions in which a person can fail the walk and turn test in the eyes of the officer are absurd. Factors such as walking without your feet exactly heel to toe, lifting your arms slightly for balance, walking one step too far or too short, turning slightly different than the officer directed can all result in failure of this field sobriety test.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN): The HGN is a test where the officer asks you to follow an object with your eyes only. The officer is looking for jerkiness in your eyes after 45 degrees. However, the HGN is an extremely unfair test. Not only are many officers unclear on where 45 degrees is, determining if the eyes are jerking more than what is normal is extremely subjective and is different in every person.
  • Touch your nose: Although seemingly simple, many sober people cannot tip their head back, close their eyes, hold their arms out to the side, and touch the very tip of their nose with the very tip of their pointer finger. Yet this is used to measure if someone is intoxicated to the extent that they should not drive.
  • Recite the alphabet: Many officers frequently use some version of this test — either asking you to recite the ABCs forward or backward, recite a certain portion of the ABCs, or recite the ABCs while doing something else that easily distracts your attention.

As experienced DUI/OWI defense lawyers, we understand how unfair physical field sobriety tests are. However, when there is inadequate other evidence, such as evidence of an elevated Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) — either from a breathalyzer, blood test, or other chemical test — the field sobriety test is possibly the only evidence being used against you. We educate the jury on the unreliability of this evidence. Most people who take these tests are under extreme stress and there are no witnesses to verify what the officer has said. These factors only aggravate matters. Our criminal defense team has proven effective in obtaining favorable outcomes in challenging field sobriety tests once the jury understands the factors involved.

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