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Does my health affect a field sobriety test?

If you are like a lot of people in California, you have heard people talk about the types of field sobriety tests that are generally administered before a law enforcement officer places a driver under arrest for drunk driving. However, you may not be aware of the types of problems that may be associated with these tests. None of the three tests are completely accurate according to FieldSobrietyTests.org. 

It is important to know that the accuracy rates of the three field sobriety tests range from a high of only 77 percent to a low of 65 percent. Your physical, mental and emotional health may actually contribute to your inability to pass one or more of these tests, calling their accuracy into question. Physically, you may not be able to balance properly in the one-leg stand test or the walk-and-turn test if you have back or leg problems. Even issues in your middle ear can impact your balance.

Anxiety or other mental health conditions may also preclude effective balance and therefore interfere with the accuracy of the field sobriety test results. Neurological health issues may skew the results of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test which tracks a jerking motion of the eye that is said to be more pronounced after a person has consumed alcohol. 

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give residents in California an overview of how their health may actually be a factor in their inability to pass a test before a drunk driving arrest.

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