Early Wednesday morning, a Maryland man lost control of his car and drove off of Route 5 near Forest Park. When a police officer reported to the crash site, the driver told him a deer had run into the road. He swerved so he wouldn't hit it and ended up driving off the road. The officer, however, apparently wasn't convinced.
The officer suspected the man of driving while intoxicated. He reported that the driver smelled of alcohol and exhibited signs of intoxication. He also said the driver could not successfully perform the field sobriety test he administered. The officer arrested the driver after he refused to submit to a breath test. He now faces charges of DUI and driving with a suspended license.
In this case, because the man did not submit to a breath test, the officer is basing his charges of drunk driving on the man's appearance and his performance during the field sobriety test. However, field sobriety tests are not as reliable as officers would probably like them to be, and they generally will not stand up on their own in court as proof of drunk driving.
One reason that field sobriety tests are not enough to prove a driver was intoxicated is because they are often administered incorrectly. If an officer didn't give you clear instructions on how to complete the tests or administered them in poor conditions, such as on a hill or when it's snowing, the test results will be very inaccurate. Usually a breath test or blood test is needed to supplement a failed sobriety test in order to obtain a conviction.
Source: Southern Maryland News Net, "Accident & Arrest for Drunk Driving," Feb. 27, 2013