Field sobriety tests aren’t always accurate

Field sobriety tests are commonly used among law enforcement to catch drunk drivers, but their accuracy has been disputed.

Now that school has started again, many students in Maryland have reason to celebrate. Sporting events, college parties and reconnecting with friends can be exciting, as well as the promise of a fresh new academic year. Students have every right to relax and have a good time when they’re taking a break from studying, but when alcohol is involved, there is always the chance of being arrested for drunk driving.

Even if a person has not had anything to drink or has drunk very little, they can face DUI charges simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This possibility is quite likely if someone is given a field sobriety test after being pulled over. Field sobriety tests are commonly used among law enforcement as a way to determine if a person has been driving impaired, without using a breath or blood test.

Human error can affect a field sobriety test’s accuracy

While conducting a field sobriety test, an officer relies on his or her own judgment to conclude if a person has been driving drunk. These types of tests can and do catch drunk drivers, but they also put innocent people at risk of being unfairly charged. For example, people with cognitive or physical impairments may be misinterpreted as being under the influence, says ABC Action News. If a person naturally has problems balancing, is overweight and has difficulty standing or walking or has other physical problems, he or she can easily fail the walk-and-turn test or the one-leg stand.

Consequences for a drunk driving conviction in Maryland

A DUI arrest in Maryland can be costly and have long-term effects. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration, those with a first-time conviction can face the following penalties:

  • Jail of up to one year.
  • Fine of up to $1,000.
  • Driver’s license revocation for six months.

These penalties can double for a subsequent offense and are even worse for additional convictions. They can include the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device and an alcohol abuse assessment and treatment program. They can also affect those who were falsely arrested due to a failed field sobriety test.

Getting help from an attorney

After a DUI arrest, an experienced drunk driving defense attorney can help you protect your rights and put your life back together. If you are facing drunk driving charges, it is important to contact and work with a lawyer as soon as possible.

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