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About Field Sobriety Tests

Experienced Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney

There are only three roadside sobriety tests which are endorsed by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) which it admits are only accurate in 67% of tests even when most expertly conducted. If you were subjected to field sobriety testing, and then were arrested, this doesn't mean you should consider pleading guilty. The recommended tests are subject to the interpretation of the officer. Throughout the Denver, Steamboat Springs, Boulder, and Vail areas some officers use additional tests that have no proven scientific validity. Your driver's license and your future will be greatly affected by what you say and the decisions you make at this time. Before you say anything consult a Colorado criminal defense lawyer with the experience to fully evaluate the conduct of the officer and assess your case.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

The three tests endorsed by the NHTSA are intended to determine if a person's mental and physical abilities are significantly reduced by alcohol. They are:

  • HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) - demonstrates the physical ability to smoothly follow the sideways motion of an object
  • Walk the Line - demonstrates the person's physical coordination and balance and ability to follow instructions
  • One Leg Stand - demonstrates a person's balance

The PBT - preliminary breathalyzer test is a portable device which reads a person's blood alcohol content is used by many officers to determine if the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) exceeds the amount (under 0.05) allowed under the law. These units are known for their inaccurate or false readings.

There may be many reasons for a high BAC reading, just as there may be a variety of reasons for a person to be unable to perform the three tests well. Physical conditions which have nothing to do with drugs or alcohol can affect a person's balance and the HGN results. A criminal defense lawyer at Feldmann Nagel, LLC has a thorough understanding of the technical factors involved in these tests and will use this to a client's advantage. For more information regarding your specific case, call for an initial consultation.