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Tennessee field sobriety tests and preponderance of the evidence

Many Tennesseans partake in alcoholic beverages. It could be to celebrate a life or career milestone, to socialize with friends or as a way to unwind after a hard day. Though there is nothing illegal about this, it is illegal to climb behind the wheel when legally intoxicated. Far too often, doing so causes serious drunk driving accidents. Tennessee victims of these accidents might be left with debilitating injuries, and families may lose someone dear to them.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver is one way to recoup losses, whether they be financial or otherwise. Nonetheless, it is critical to realize that to win a civil lawsuit, one only needs to prove his or her case by 51 percent. In other words, unlike in a criminal trial, where guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, in a civil case, one must simply prove that what he or she is claiming is more likely than not is what happened.

Let us look at field sobriety tests to help paint the picture. There are many types of field sobriety tests, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn and the one legged stand. In a criminal matter, the results of these tests may be used to help buttress a claim of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet, even an individual who is not criminally convicted, or even charged, can still be held liable for civil damages, and field sobriety test results may help.

In a lawsuit, the police officer who conducted the tests may be able to testify about the tests. He or she may talk about exaggerated eye movement during the horizontal gaze test, an imbalance during a walk and turn or the one legged stand. Though, it may not have been enough to obtain a criminal conviction, it may be enough to win a civil lawsuit. All this is to say, if an individual has been harmed in a drunk driving accident, then he or she may want to consult a legal professional as an attorney can competently handle these legal matters.

Source:, "Field Sobriety Tests," accessed on Sept. 18 2015

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