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What Factors Can Impact the Results of DUI Sobriety Tests?

Posted on in DUI

Joliet DUI defense attorneyDriving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is strictly prohibited in the United States. Research has shown the negative effect that controlled substances have on a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. In addition, studies prove the correlation between impaired driving and car accidents with serious injuries. In Illinois, the legal limit for intoxication is a .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). There are several factors that can affect the results of DUI testing, so that is why it is crucial to hire a criminal defense attorney who can provide the skilled representation needed when facing these serious charges.

Inaccuracies in Testing

When someone is pulled over for suspicion of DUI, the police typically ask the driver to submit to a series of tests. The standard field sobriety test (SFST) includes three tests performed during a traffic stop in order to determine if a driver is impaired. These tests involve evaluating a driver’s balance and coordination, and they are known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. 

Developed in the 1970s, these tests are scientifically validated and admissible as evidence in court in most states. However, they can be somewhat subjective depending on the officer administering the test. For example, if it is a new officer, he or she may not accurately recognize the signs of impairment or intoxication. In other words, the officer might be quick to declare that a driver is indeed drunk when he or she simply has balance issues due to vertigo or other inner ear issues. Age, injury, or disease could also affect the ability to perform any of these tests successfully.

A police officer may also ask a driver to submit to a breathalyzer test, which records his or her BAC at the time of the traffic stop. In Illinois, drivers can refuse to take this test, but an officer can still make an arrest and take the driver into custody. At the police station, the driver may be required to take a breath or blood test. In some cases, a false positive test result can be due to residual mouth alcohol. Many products can cause residual mouth alcohol, including mouthwashes, breath sprays, and cough syrups or drops. 

There are other medical conditions that can influence the result of a chemical test. A person who suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is at risk of having an elevated BAC reading. GERD causes what is in an individual’s stomach to flow back up the digestive tract. This may include any undigested alcohol in the stomach, which could contaminate the breath sample.

Contact a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

Even a first DUI charge can result in a misdemeanor conviction in Illinois, which remains on your record permanently and cannot be expunged. That is why it is critical to consult an experienced Will County criminal defense lawyer from McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC who will fight for your rights. We will carefully review the details of your case to uncover any mistakes during your arrest so your charges are dismissed or reduced. Call our office today at 815-727-0100 to schedule a free, private consultation. 


Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-501

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-501.2

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