The Role of Field Sobriety Tests in Indiana DUI Arrests

Field sobriety tests are a common tool used by law enforcement officers in Indiana to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These tests can play a significant role in a DUI arrest, but they are not always accurate or reliable. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of field sobriety tests in Indiana DUI arrests, their limitations, and how a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you challenge the results in court.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are a series of physical and mental exercises administered by law enforcement officers to evaluate a driver's level of impairment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has standardized three tests that are commonly used in Indiana:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: This test involves an officer observing the involuntary jerking of a driver's eyes as they follow a moving object, such as a pen or finger.
  • Walk-and-Turn Test: The driver is instructed to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, turn around, and walk back in the same manner.
  • One-Leg Stand Test: The driver must stand on one foot while counting aloud for a specified period of time.

These tests are designed to assess a driver's balance, coordination, and ability to follow instructions, which can be impaired by alcohol or drug use.

Limitations of Field Sobriety Tests

While field sobriety tests can provide valuable evidence in a DUI arrest, they are not foolproof.

There are several factors that can affect the accuracy and reliability of these tests:

  • Physical & Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as inner ear problems, neurological disorders, or injuries, can affect a driver's balance and coordination, leading to poor performance on FSTs.
  • Environmental Factors: Uneven or slippery road surfaces, poor lighting, and heavy traffic can make it difficult for a driver to perform FSTs accurately.
  • Officer Bias & Error: Law enforcement officers may not always administer FSTs correctly or interpret the results accurately. Additionally, an officer's preconceived notions about a driver's impairment can influence their assessment of the test results.

Challenging Field Sobriety Test Results in Court

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Indiana based on the results of field sobriety tests, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

A skilled lawyer can help you challenge the validity of the FST results by:

  • Investigating the circumstances of your arrest and the administration of the FSTs
  • Presenting evidence of any physical or medical conditions that may have affected your performance on the tests
  • Questioning the officer's training, experience, and adherence to Indiana's standardized FST procedures
  • Highlighting any environmental factors that may have impacted the accuracy of the tests

By challenging the results of field sobriety tests, your attorney may be able to have the evidence excluded from your case, potentially leading to a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you.

Contact an Experienced Indiana DUI Defense Attorney

At Gregory A. Miller, we understand the importance of field sobriety tests in Indiana DUI arrests and are committed to providing our clients with the aggressive and knowledgeable representation they need to challenge these results. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Indiana, contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal options!