Charles L. Truncale
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A Former Federal Prosecutor Who Now Fights For Defendants

Can medical conditions lead to a failed field sobriety test?

You’ve been pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence. The cop asks you to submit to a field sobriety test and, although the law does not require you to consent to such a test, you oblige knowing you are completely sober. You take the field sobriety test (FST) as requested. Following the test, however, the cop arrests you for DUI. You haven’t had a drop of alcohol, so how can that be?

Health conditions can affect sobriety test results

Sober people can fail FSTs for many reasons, some of which are due to health concerns. FSTs were not designed for the average person. Dizziness and feeling faint are common among the general population and aren’t always a sign of impairment. The health conditions listed below can offer an explanation for how an innocent person can be sent to jail for DUI.

  • Vertigo
  • Hyperventilation
  • Exhaustion
  • Medications
  • Stroke
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Nerve damage to legs
  • Joint problems
  • Inner ear disorders

You are not required to submit to a FST

Florida law does not require drivers to submit to a field sobriety test. If you choose to, the test can and will be used against you. Although it is not illegal to refuse a test, you may still be arrested for DUI. It is important to note that the law does not treat FSTs the same as breath tests. In Florida, drivers must submit to a breath test under implied consent laws. If you refuse to take such a test, your license will be suspended for one year. Further refusals will carry stiffer penalties.

The law recognizes that FSTs aren’t always accurate and you can challenge a DUI charge in court. If you are facing such charges, you may want to consider hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney to protect you from a wrongful conviction.

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