Chicago alderman acquitted of drunk driving charges

Field sobriety tests are not always accurate, and even sober people can be arrested if they have speech impediments or trouble balancing.

During a traffic stop in which a police officer suspects the driver is intoxicated, numerous procedures may be implemented to determine sobriety, or the lack thereof. The field sobriety test is one of the most common tests that authorities might conduct with drivers in Illinois, since proponents claim that it is easy to administer and effective. However, there may be instances in which a field sobriety test is wrong, state others. Officers rely on their own judgment during a field sobriety test, and sometimes this judgment can be faulty.

For example, various physical or mental conditions can mimic the signs of intoxication during a field sobriety test, states ABC Action News. Additionally, the actions performed during these tests might be difficult for some sober people to perform, thereby leading to false arrests for driving under the influence.

Ways a sober person can fail a field sobriety test

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Standardized Field Sobriety Test involves numerous activities that can help an officer determine if a person has been drinking.

These include the following:

    • Standing on one foot for up to 30 seconds without losing balance or using the arms to steady one’s self
    • Walking in a straight line, turning and then walking back in the same direction without leaning, falling over or using arms to balance
    • Talking with slurred speech, having eyes that appear glassy or bloodshot or otherwise appearing intoxicated


It can be difficult for a person with a physical or cognitive impairment to pass any number of these tests. This may include someone with a foot or leg injury, back problems or inner ear condition. Elderly or overweight people may also have difficulty balancing. Those who have suffered from a stroke or have a speech impediment may be mistaken by law enforcement as intoxicated.

It’s also possible for a field sobriety test to be conducted improperly by authorities. According to the Michigan Bar Journal, police officers performed the test incorrectly 95 percent of the time in at least one study.

Chicago alderman found not guilty after field sobriety test arrest

Recently, Chicago Alderman Rey Colon was acquitted of DUI charges, after a judge determined the video of his field sobriety test did not prove he had been intoxicated. According to the Chicago Tribune, he had been pulled over after an officer noticed him drift onto the shoulder twice. The alderman reportedly used his arms to balance during the test, but the judge said he was walking straight and rigid during the other tests. Additionally, his eyes did not appear to be too bloodshot in his arrest mug shot and the judge said his speech did not appear to be slurred in the video.

Contact an experienced drunk driving defense attorney if you were arrested during a field sobriety test. An attorney can help to protect your rights.

Deboer Law