Does failing field sobriety tests hurt my criminal defense?

Getting stopped for suspected DUI can be extremely intimidating. In Missouri, officers are likely to request that one participate in field sobriety testing. If a person does submit — yes it is a choice — and fails, he or she may be left wondering what that means for his or her criminal defense.

The truth is, it is not a make it or break it kind of thing. Yes, failing a field sobriety test is not really a good thing, but if the subject is broached appropriately the court will be forced to look at why they failed — not just the test results. Not everyone fails because they are impaired.

There is a glaring issue with field sobriety tests: they are subjective. It is up to one, maybe two, officers to decide if the person participating fails or passes. What if there was a problem with the way the tests were administered? What if the suspect had a medical issues that contributed to his or her inability to perform certain tasks? What if the ground was uneven?

There are so many “what ifs” when it comes to field sobriety tests. So many things that can affect their outcome. So no, failing a field sobriety test may not hurt one’s criminal defense. It may open the door to introducing information to the court that could, in fact, help one’s case. While fighting a DUI charge in Missouri is not necessarily an easy task, with legal counsel at one’s side it is possible to question the circumstances surrounding one’s arrest which could help to achieve a case dismissal or, at least, a reduction in charges.

Source: FindLaw, “Field Sobriety Tests“, Accessed on Jan. 4, 2018

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