Can Results of a Field Sobriety Test Be Used in Court in Ohio?

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Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are a common tool for law enforcement officers to assess the potential impairment of drivers. The results are frequently used as evidence in DUI/OVI cases. But how reliable are these tests? And can the results of a field sobriety test be used in court in Ohio? These are crucial questions that require an understanding of what a field sobriety test entails and its legal implications. At The VanNoy Firm, we have assisted many clients charged with a DUI/OVI and understand how field sobriety test results can be used against you in court. We’re prepared to protect your rights at every stage of the process; reach out for a consultation today.

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests

A field sobriety test requires physical movements by the person being tested, such as walking heel-to-toe in a straight line or standing on one leg while counting out loud. Indicators of impairment, such as instability or lack of coordination, are recorded for later review if necessary. The standardized field sobriety tests used by law enforcement officials in Ohio include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk & Turn Test, and the One-Leg Stand Test. Each test assesses different physical and cognitive indicators of alcohol impairment.

Legalities of Using Field Sobriety Test Results in Court

Results from field sobriety tests can play a significant role in DUI cases in Ohio. They are one of the primary ways that law enforcement officers determine if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The performance of these tests is used to measure a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. The results can be used as evidence in a criminal case if the person is charged with a DUI.

However, it is important to note that several factors can influence the results of FSTs and their accuracy. These factors include medical conditions that affect balance, nervousness or anxiety, inappropriate footwear, environmental factors like uneven surfaces or poor lighting, inadequate instructions or unclear demonstration of FST by law enforcement, and language barriers or physical disabilities.

Ohio Laws Regarding Field Sobriety Test Results

In Ohio, the results of a field sobriety test are admissible in court as evidence under certain conditions. Officers must follow specific protocols while administering the test; any deviation from those standards may weaken its validity in court proceedings. 

For example, in the 2016 case, City of Cleveland v. Krivich, field sobriety tests conducted on the driver were deemed invalid because the officer administering the tests gave improper instructions. The case was dismissed due to the officer’s error in instruction, emphasizing how inaccuracies in testing can be used in the defendant’s favor.

Contact Our Firm For a Case Evaluation

Field sobriety tests are an integral part of DUI cases in Ohio. However, the results of these tests are not foolproof and can be influenced by various factors. In Ohio, while the results can be used as evidence, their admissibility is contingent upon the proper administration of the test. If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving under the influence, it is crucial to seek legal representation immediately. An experienced defense attorney can help navigate the legal system, assess the evidence against you, and challenge the results of any field sobriety tests administered by the arresting officer.

The VanNoy Firm stands ready to provide aggressive and individualized legal representation. With experience in DUI & OVI law, we are dedicated to doing everything legally and ethically possible to obtain the best results for our clients. Do not hesitate to contact us: you can trust us to defend your future.



About The Author

Anthony S. VanNoy

Trial Attorney

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