What does it mean to fail field sobriety tests when arrested for DUI in Massachusetts?

You have received a copy of your Massachusetts OUI police report, and it says you failed. You panic. Don’t worry; there are several factors that can contribute to an officer claiming you failed field sobriety tests; in most cases when I look at the report, I will find you did very well.

Weather, medical conditions, and nerves can all impact your performance on field sobriety tests. Also, on almost all reports police officers will claim failure. What this failure means will vary from case to case.

“In about 75% of the police reports that I read, I find that the field sobriety tests help our case MORE than the Commonwealth.

This is based on my training in regards to how the exercises are suppose to be conducted, scored, and what the officer omitted in the police report”

First, a field sobriety test is based on the officer’s opinion, not on fact. Basically, the officer is stating that in his opinion, you did not follow his instructions. However, while the test may indicate a perceived inability to follow instructions, it may also indicate the police officer did not perform the test correctly.

Officers do not always follow their police training when administering field sobriety tests. This is often demonstrated on the report itself. For example, the police report may indicate that the officer didn’t follow his police training in administering the one leg stand or walk and turn test.

Read what our clients have to say about DelSignore Law:

“Excellent experience and results!”

“After our son was arrested and charged with an OUI first offense, we hired Attorney DelSignore to assist us in the daunting process. He showed care and compassion toward us, and took the time to explain the court process. He was an excellent choice; Attorney DelSignore knows the rules regarding OUI arrests and was able to effectively cross examine the officer. During cross examination, he highlighted the fact that the officer did not know the specifics of the field sobriety tests like he should have. By questioning the officer, he was able to cast a substantial amount of doubt on the subjectivity of the tests. My son was ultimately found not guilty! Mike is an expert, worth the money, and we would recommend him to all of our family and friends.”

- Client testimonial, November 2017

What are the 4 common mistakes police officers make when administering field sobriety tests?
  1. Officers may be unaware of the number of clues they are scoring on each test. For example, the nine-step walk and turn has 8 clues. If the officer does not know this, they may score incorrectly.
  2. Officers require a motorist to hold their leg 6-8 inches off of the ground on the one leg stand. The test requires your leg to only be 6 inches off the ground. So, if you were aiming for 8, the officer made the test harder than it was intended to be.
  3. Officers unsure of how to judge a particular part of the test. For example, many officers do not know that a person does not have to literally touch their feet together when performing the walk and turn test, but only need to keep them 1⁄2 inch apart.
  4. Officers lack of police manual knowledge. Some officers admit they have not read the police manual and instead perform the test based only on their experiences as an officer.
Additional Factors Contributing to FST Failure:

In fact, many officers make field sobriety tests harder because they do not understand the correct scoring. Additionally, the police report will not reveal additional factors that may have contributed to your failure, such as:

  • Weather conditions
  • Medical conditions that make the exercise more difficult
  • Exercises that were unfair because you were wearing improper shoes.
  • Nerves: often your nerves will make performing exercises under pressure difficult

** Do not panic. Attorney DelSignore has successfully represented many clients with failed sobriety test results.

Are field Sobriety Tests even useful to predict whether someone is under the influence of alcohol?

Often a case can still be won even if an officer claims you failed the field sobriety test. Additionally, it may be argued the test itself does not demonstrate anything worthwhile for the jury to even consider.

Contact us today

When you contact DelSignore Law, we will be able to explain the field sobriety tests you routinely performed on the side of the road after your arrest. Contact us today for a free consultation.

To learn more about the nine step walk and turn, visit our website here. If you have questions about any other field sobriety test, including the one-leg stand, visit our website today.

Client Reviews
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Michael was very professional and explained the process clearly and told us to be patient. After one year the charges got dismissed in the trial. Excellent knowledge of the court systems in the area of Boston. Would highly recommend him
★★★★★
A careless decision on my part left me facing charges which would have severely hampered my ability to stay employed and support myself. But attorney DelSignore's skillful analysis and challenging of the evidence against me resulted in a conviction on a lesser charge. Now I'll be able to go on with my life, having learned a lesson I'll never forget. Thank you, Michael. Scott
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Mike stuck with my case for 3.5 years and always kept me informed regarding the status. Ultimately, because of his due diligence, we ended up with an OUI not guilty verdict. This case could have gone many ways but his thorough review of the case and exceptional preparedness for trial ultimately drove a positive outcome. Thank you Mike! David
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Michael DelSignore did an amazing job with my case! Either him or his partner Julie was always available to answer any questions I had and helped walked me through the entire process. I could not have done it without them! I highly recommend choosing this law firm to deal with your legal needs, you will not be dissatisfied. Ashley
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I cannot express the gratitude towards both Michael and Julie for their amazing work and help. It was a very stressful event and they certainly put me at as much ease as possible. From start to finish it took 14 months and all the way through they were both very engaged with me. Today was worth the wait, Michael was great in court and I was rightfully found not guilty. I would recommend Michael and Julie over and over again. Claire
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