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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Matthews

Challenging Field Sobriety Test Results in Court: Orlando DUI Attorney

Updated: Aug 23, 2023


Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are commonly used by law enforcement officers to determine whether a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These tests, however, are not foolproof and can be influenced by various factors that lead to inaccuracies. As individuals facing DUI charges deserve a fair trial, it's crucial to understand the potential flaws in field sobriety test results and the strategies that can be employed to challenge them in court. It's important to hire an Orlando DUI Attorney as soon as possible.

The Flaws in Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests often involve a series of physical and cognitive tasks that a driver is asked to perform during a traffic stop. The most common FSTs include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk-and-Turn, and One-Leg Stand tests. While these tests are designed to assess a driver's impairment, several factors can lead to erroneous results:

  1. Physical and Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as inner ear disorders or injuries, can mimic the signs of impairment that FSTs look for. These conditions may lead to inaccurate results, falsely implicating an individual as intoxicated.

  2. Nervousness and Anxiety: Being pulled over by law enforcement can be nerve-wracking for anyone, irrespective of their sobriety. Nervousness and anxiety can affect a driver's ability to perform tasks accurately, potentially leading to false indications of impairment.

  3. Environmental Factors: Field sobriety tests are often conducted on uneven surfaces, under poor lighting, or in adverse weather conditions. These factors can significantly impact an individual's performance, making it difficult to accurately gauge impairment.

Strategies for Challenging Field Sobriety Test Results

When challenging field sobriety test results in court, it's essential to approach the situation methodically. Here are some effective strategies to consider:

  1. Questioning Officer Training and Conduct: Officers administering FSTs must be properly trained to conduct these tests accurately. If there's evidence that the officer was inadequately trained or didn't follow the standardized procedures, it could cast doubt on the test's reliability.

  2. Highlighting Medical Conditions: If the defendant has a medical condition that could have affected their performance, this information should be presented in court. Expert medical testimony can help establish that the test results were influenced by factors beyond intoxication.

  3. Nervousness and Anxiety: Defense attorneys can question the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop and the behavior of the officer. Nervousness due to the presence of law enforcement could be used to explain subpar FST performance.

  4. Environmental Factors: If the conditions under which the FSTs were conducted were less than ideal, such as poor lighting or a slippery surface, this could be used to challenge the accuracy of the results.

  5. Eyewitness Testimonies: If there were witnesses present during the traffic stop who can attest to the defendant's sobriety, their testimonies can be crucial in undermining the credibility of the FST results.

  6. Expert Witnesses: Enlisting the help of experts who are knowledgeable about the potential inaccuracies of field sobriety tests can provide a strong counterargument in court. These experts can explain the various factors that can lead to false positives and challenge the validity of the tests.


Field sobriety tests, while widely used, are not infallible indicators of impairment. Various factors, ranging from medical conditions to environmental elements, can lead to inaccurate results. Challenging field sobriety test results in court requires a strategic approach that involves questioning officer conduct, highlighting medical conditions, and presenting expert testimony. As individuals are entitled to a fair trial, understanding the potential flaws in FSTs is essential for ensuring justice in cases involving DUI charges. Hire an Orlando DUI Attorney as soon as possible. If you have been charged with DUI, driving under the influence, hire an experienced attorney today, contact Matthews Criminal Defense, at (407) 561-8166 for a free consultation.

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