What are standardized field sobriety tests?

Though breath analysis tests often get the most publicity, they are not the only type of tool officers use to detect intoxication. In fact, it often is not even the first tool they use. That role often falls to field sobriety tests.

Of these tests, you are more likely to take a standardized field sobriety test. But what are these tests, and what do they mean for you?

The purpose of standardizing tests

VeryWell Mind explores field sobriety testing. In specific, they note the differences between standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests. You are not likely to see the latter due to the potential for officer bias affecting results. In fact, that is the reason standardized testing came into existence at all.

Standardized testing has a unified rubric that applies to all tests administered in any state. In other words, less of the results are left up to an officer’s individual interpretation. Instead, they have to check the signs by the rubric to determine if a driver may be under the influence.

Forms of standardized testing

Due to this, there are only three standardized field sobriety tests. They include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn and the one-legged stand. Each test checks your balance and dexterity. It also reveals how well you can comprehend and follow instructions.

Even standardized field sobriety tests still have a chance of getting influenced by officer bias, though. Courts know this and thus do not treat these results as strong evidence. If you fail a field sobriety test, you should still treat it seriously. But understand that it will not condemn you.


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