When a law enforcement officer suspects that you have been driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs in Oregon, the first thing they will do is ask you to step out of the vehicle and participate in a series of field sobriety tests. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), only three standardized tests can be used to determine whether or not a driver is intoxicated: the walk and turn, the horizontal gaze nystagmus and the one-leg stand. Each was designed to test various cognitive and physical functions that are generally impaired when "under the influence," but are they really an accurate way to judge a person's sobriety? Scientifically speaking, not particularly.
Since these tests are based on one officer's subjective opinion, it is impractical to assume that the results of a field sobriety test would be consistent across the board. While police officers have been trained to evaluate certain indicators (i.e. the suspect is unable to balance on one foot), it is also true that these tests are based on questionable logic. For example, it may be true that everyone who is intoxicated will experience impaired coordination, but that does necessarily translate into "this driver is uncoordinated, so therefore he is drunk." Rather, it could just be that the driver is inherently uncoordinated and/or absent minded—making it difficult for them to follow instructions.
On a similar note, the outcome of a field sobriety test is also solely dependent on the law enforcement officer's judgment and subjective opinion. That being said, if you were to have five different officers administer the same exact test to the same exact driver, you would most likely receive five different results. This could ultimately mean the difference between a person's decided innocence and guilt, so it is highly recommended that you let a Portland criminal defense attorney from Neal Weingart, Attorney at Law, LLC review the circumstances of your arrest if you have been charged with DUI. In doing so, you can ensure that you won't be convicted of drunk driving on subjective evidence.
Our firm can, and will, do whatever it takes to challenge the validity of your field sobriety test results if we have any reason to believe that they are less than 100% accurate, so we encourage you to take proactive steps in the interest of your defense by giving us a call today. When you contact our office at (503) 483-4025, your initial consultation is free. That being said, there is no reason why you should wait any longer to secure the legal guidance that you will need to successfully combat your DUI charges. Our Portland criminal defense lawyer is ready and available to help, but it is up to you to take the first step.