Field sobriety tests are outdated, unreliable


When an officer pulls over a suspected drunk driver, they may use their training to determine if their suspicion is correct. While it’s common to have a Breathalyzer test done, an officer may instead use field sobriety tests. You may be wondering what a field sobriety test is. Here’s what you should know:

3 types of field sobriety tests

There are a few field sobriety tests that a police officer may use. Three of these are more commonly used by officers:

  1. Stand on one leg: as the name suggests, you may have to stand on one leg to demonstrate your balance. Being off-balance or falling over could indicate you are inebriated.
  2. Walk and turn: A walk and turn may have you walk in a straight line as if on a tightrope, turn around, and walk back. Officers may be looking at your balance, precision and speed.
  3. Finger-to-nose: A finger-to-nose test has you standing up straight with your arms out and eyes closed while you put one finger on your nose. Again, an officer may be looking for balance and accuracy.

While many of these are trained and used, they may not be the most accurate when determining if someone had a little too much to drink before they got on the road.

Many of these tests amount to guesswork

There may not be any science behind the accuracy of field sobriety tests. Most of these tests are done by officers who may not be correctly trained and, at most, may just be a guess. There are even many factors that may make someone fail a sobriety test unrelated to drunkenness. Certain disabilities, fatigue, sickness, caffeination or stress could cause someone to lose their balance, misjudge their steps, limp or cause difficulty looking forward. Because of this, many people may be wrongly charged with driving under the influence.

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