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3 reasons you may fail field sobriety tests when sober

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | DUI

If the police have reasonable suspicion that you may be driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, they may stop you to perform tests. Standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) are among the tests they may administer to determine whether or not you are impaired.

Examples of SFSTs include the walk-and-turn test, one-leg stand test and horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). Like the breathalyzer test, the results of SFSTs can be inaccurate. 

Here are three reasons you may fail an SFST when sober:

Medical conditions

If a driver has a medical condition that affects their balance and coordination, they are likely to fail SFSTs. For example, the chances of people with inner ear disorders, such as labyrinthitis and Ménière’s disease, failing the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests can be high, as they may lose balance. 

Other medical conditions that can affect one’s balance include neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, heart issues and injuries.

Additionally, health conditions that affect one’s ability to control eye muscles can lead to inaccurate results on an HGN test. It can be challenging for them to follow the officer’s pen or finger without making sudden eye movements that may be mistaken for eye jerking due to alcohol.


Certain medications can affect a driver’s results on an SFST. For example, some medications affect eye movements, compromising HGN results.


A person’s age may affect how they perform on an SFST. The police will typically consider this factor to get accurate results. However, they can overlook it in some instances. Accordingly, an older person may fail an SFST unfairly.

SFSTs have undergone different studies over the years to guarantee their accuracy. However, some things still affect their results. If you fail any of these tests, it’s important to seek legal guidance.