Defending Against Field Sobriety Tests: Strategies from a Nashville DUI Attorney

For individuals facing DUI charges in Nashville, field sobriety tests (FSTs) are often a critical component of the prosecution’s case. However, understanding how to challenge the validity of FSTs can be essential for building a strong defense. In this blog post, we provide factual insights into strategies for defending against field sobriety tests, offering practical advice from a Nashville DUI attorney to help individuals facing DUI charges protect their rights and achieve the best possible outcome for their cases.

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are standardized roadside assessments used by law enforcement officers to evaluate a driver’s level of impairment by alcohol or drugs. While there are several types of FSTs, three tests commonly used by law enforcement officers in DUI investigations include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test. However, it’s important to note that FSTs are not foolproof and can be influenced by various factors, including environmental conditions, physical limitations, and officer subjectivity.

Strategies for Challenging Field Sobriety Tests

  1. Questioning the Administration of FSTs

One strategy for challenging field sobriety tests is to question the manner in which the tests were administered by law enforcement officers. Factors such as inadequate instructions, poor lighting conditions, uneven surfaces, or distracting traffic noise can impact the accuracy of FSTs and may provide grounds for challenging their validity in court.

  1. Highlighting Physical Limitations

Individuals with certain physical or medical conditions may have difficulty performing field sobriety tests accurately, even when sober. Conditions such as inner ear problems, neurological disorders, or injuries to the legs, knees, or ankles can affect balance, coordination, and motor skills, potentially leading to false indicators of impairment during FSTs.

  1. Demonstrating Officer Bias or Inexperience

Law enforcement officers’ subjective judgments and biases can influence the administration and interpretation of field sobriety tests. Inexperienced officers may lack proper training or proficiency in conducting FSTs, leading to errors or inaccuracies in their assessments. Defense attorneys can challenge the credibility of FST results by highlighting instances of officer bias or inexperience during cross-examination.

  1. Presenting Alternative Explanations

Another strategy for challenging field sobriety tests is to present alternative explanations for the observed signs of impairment. Factors such as fatigue, stress, anxiety, or medical conditions unrelated to intoxication can produce symptoms similar to those associated with impairment, potentially casting doubt on the reliability of FST results.


Challenging field sobriety tests is a critical aspect of defending against DUI charges in Nashville. By understanding the limitations of FSTs and employing effective defense strategies, individuals facing DUI charges can protect their rights and improve their chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in court. Consulting with an experienced DUI attorney who is knowledgeable about field sobriety tests and DUI laws in Tennessee is essential for building a strong defense and advocating for the best possible result in your case. If you’re facing DUI charges in Nashville, don’t hesitate to seek legal representation to protect your rights and ensure a fair legal process.