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Can DUI field sobriety tests be legally challenged?

Being stopped by a police officer in Orlando or anywhere else in Orange County on suspicion of drunk driving is a harrowing experience for anybody.

First, there is that official interaction. As uncomfortable as that can be in a police-citizen encounter generally, the discomfort barometer rises markedly when alleged inebriation is the focal point underlying a stop.

People who have been subjected to a DUI stop often relate in the aftermath that they were spooked by all aspects of the experience. There are those flashing lights. There is the waiting in silence before the officer approaches a vehicle and begins a line of questioning. There is that seeming presumption, whether justified or not.

And then there are those field sobriety tests.

As noted by an online provider of legal information, such testing is often done to justify an officer's suspicions of drunk driving and as a prerequisite to breathalyzer testing.

Here's a quick question: Can the results of those tests be challenged?

And here's a quick answer: Every aspect of a DUI stop can be legally challenged, with stopped motorists across the country often prevailing in such challenges. Drunk driving stops are sometimes made absent an officer's probable cause to detain a motorist. Breathalyzers have been known to be improperly calibrated.

And improprieties can easily arise in the administration of sobriety tests. Perhaps an officer's instructions were not clearly delivered. Perhaps his or her judgment regarding inebriation was flatly flawed. Perhaps such testing -- walking, turning, standing on one leg and so forth -- turns out to be inordinately difficult for a person with arthritis or with prior surgeries that render certain movements uneven and painful.

Many people who are stone-cold sober have difficulty reciting numbers and letters backward, touching their nose with their eyes closed and walking toe to heel in exacting fashion. How much more difficult might that be in the stressful environment posed by a DUI stop?

Any person who has been subjected to a drunk driving stop and subsequently charged with a criminal offense might reasonably wish to speak without delay with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A proven DUI defense lawyer can sometimes spot irregularities in a DUI stop that materially mitigate the effects of a criminal charge.

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