Issues That May Affect A Field Sobriety Test

Learn About What To Expect If You Are Pulled Over For A DUI

Before agreeing to submit yourself for a breath test or field exercises (which legally you can refuse), there are certain facts you need to be aware of. A variety of conditions exist that can exacerbate the results, causing a failure of the test and landing you with a DUI. Some research indicates that breath test results can vary as much as 15 percent from actual blood alcohol concentration.

Field Exercises

The standard field sobriety tests in the state of Florida are more of an exercise and not based in science. In a past Florida Supreme Court decision, the evidence of the field sobriety exercise was ruled to be unscientific testimony, and that the police are not accepted experts on the walk and turn or standing on one leg. Whether you have passed or failed in the field, an attorney such as myself may establish that this exercise is not really indicative of one’s sobriety.

Timing Is Everything

Several factors determine how long it takes for a person to absorb alcohol into their bloodstream, like age, metabolism, food in your stomach, etc. For the person who has a couple of fast drinks before heading home, the alcohol in their bloodstream may not actually peak until later. So, if they’re pulled over on the way home, they may still be under the legal limit. However, if the test were done later, they may be over the limit. If the officer waits an hour or more to check your blood alcohol concentration, the results may not reflect your actual levels from when you were stopped.


If you are running a fever or, for some other reason, your body temperature is higher than normal, this may actually increase the likelihood of failing a breath test. The hotter you are, the higher the amount of ethanol diffuses into your exhalations. Ambient air temperatures also can adversely affect breath test readings, if they’re not calibrated properly prior to administering them.

Breathing Patterns

Hyperventilation may decrease the readings of a breath test by nearly 32 percent. But, the officer isn’t going to let you run laps before giving you the test. Consequently, people who are nervous, stressed out or prone to panic attacks can experience fast breathing. Alternately, holding one’s breath prior to taking a field sobriety test has been shown to actually increase the results by as much as 28 percent.

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