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Criminal, Family and Probate Law

Wyatt Hardy, PLC

Criminal, Family and Probate Law


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What are field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2023 | DWI Defense

When an officer attempts to discern whether a driver is sober or not, they will often utilize field sobriety tests firsts.

What are these tests, and what should drivers know about them?

Non-standard vs. standardized tests discuss the different tests that officers may use. First, tests fall into one of two categories: standardized and non-standard.

The difference between the two is that standardized tests all follow a certain rubric, meaning the results are usually less biased. Only three standardized tests exist, compared to dozens of non-standard tests.

The three standardized tests include the walk-and-turn, the horizontal gaze nystagmus and the one-leg stand.

Some non-standardized tests include reciting the alphabet backward and counting backward from one hundred. Each test checks for things like balance, mobility and ability to follow instructions.

Can results work against you in court?

The good news is, regardless of whether an officer uses a standardized or non-standard test, chances are high that they will not use the results in court.

This is due to a simple matter of the lack of science behind field sobriety tests. Simply put, even with standardized tests, too much room exists which allows for the bias of the officer running the test to influence the results.

Because of that, failing a field sobriety test is not the end of the world. Even failing other sobriety tests does not automatically mean a person has lost their case. Thus, it is important to understand the role of these tests and their results in a court case to handle it best.