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Louisiana criminal defense: Fighting field sobriety test results

When suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Louisiana, police may pull one over and ask him or her to participate in field sobriety tests. What exactly are these tests? Can a criminal defense attorney help one fight the results of these tests?

There are four different sobriety tests that are administered in the field: Breathalyzer, one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus and the walk and turn. A Breathalyzer is a machine that one breathes into and it gives a readout of how much alcohol is in one's system. It is the most commonly used chemical DUI test used by police officers while they are out on duty.

The other three tests are physical tests. The one-leg stand involves a person standing on one foot and balancing for a set period of time without using his or her arms, hopping or doing anything else to maintain balance. The HGN involves following an object with one's eyes. If the eyes jerk more than they should, this is considered a sign of impairment. Finally, the walk and turn involves walking a straight line, turning and walking back to the starting point without doing anything to help oneself maintain balance.

These are all fairly simple tests and all deemed to be highly accurate. The problem with them is that they are all subject to error. Breathalyzers fail or give false high readings if they are not properly maintained or calibrated. The other field sobriety tests are all subjective in nature and may not be administered accurately. Those who have failed field sobriety tests in Louisiana may, with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, be able to fight the results by questioning their accuracy in court.

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