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Can you refuse a field sobriety test for medical reasons?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2021 | Drunk Driving Charges |

You may be driving home after a night of celebration with a few friends. You see flashing red and blue lights behind you and wonder if you had too much to drink.

After stopping for the police officer, you learn that they spotted you weaving in your lane. As the officer explains they have to test your reflexes, you try to tell them that you have a physical condition that makes balancing difficult.

You can refuse a field sobriety (FST) test in California

In California, drivers who are suspected of being drunk can refuse to take the roadside FST. This state does recognize that some people may not be able to pass the FST, even though they may not be drunk.

California drivers who hold driver’s licenses agree to the field sobriety test. If you refused to take the FST because of your medical issue, you may request a different test at the police department. Blood testing is much more accurate than the Breathalyzer test.

Testing flaws

Roadside field sobriety tests are not 100% accurate. They may not take your medical issues into consideration, which means you may automatically flunk one or more of these tests.

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus checks your ability to follow an object that moves left to right with your eyes
  • One-leg stand checks your ability to stand on one leg and keep your balance without falling
  • Walk and turn checks to see if you are able to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line

Medical conditions that may skew your field sobriety test

If you have an inner ear condition or infection, this affects your balance. You may fall while trying to balance. Skeletal disorders affect your ability to pass the heel-to-toe test. A neurological injury may cause you to fail the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.