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When can you challenge a sobriety test in New York State?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2024 | Dui

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in the Empire State. Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are a customary technique used by law enforcement to assess a driver’s level of intoxication during a traffic stop

While these tests can provide valuable evidence, they are not infallible. In certain scenarios, the validity of a field sobriety test can be questioned in court. As a New Yorker, it can help to explore the instances where you might have grounds to contest an FST.

Understanding field sobriety tests 

Field sobriety tests typically consist of three standardized exercises: the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. Officers receive training in administering these tests and look for specific cues that indicate impairment, such as:

  • Difficulty balancing 
  • Following instructions 
  • Maintaining eye contact 

It’s important to remember that FSTs are voluntary in the Empire State. However, while refusing a test can’t be used as sole evidence of guilt, it may be used against you in court.

Challenging the test administration

One way to challenge an FST is to argue that the officer administering the test did not follow proper procedures. This could include providing unclear instructions, refusing to allow practice attempts or conducting the tests on an uneven surface. Any deviation from standardized protocols can cast doubt on the validity of the results.

Medical conditions affecting FST performance

Did you know that some medical conditions can significantly impact a person’s ability to perform FSTs accurately? For instance, inner ear issues can affect balance, while injuries or pain in the legs can hinder walking and standing exercises. If you have a medical condition that could have influenced your performance, bringing documentation from a doctor to court can be crucial in challenging the test results.

Understanding when and how to challenge field sobriety tests can increase your chances of defending yourself against DWI charges. Remember, you can benefit from personalized legal guidance as you fight DWI charges.