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What should you know about field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2021 | Drunk Driving |

An officer may use a number of tools to help detect whether or not someone is under the influence. The first thing you are likely to go through is a field sobriety test. In particular, you will probably face a standardized version.

But what are these tests? What should you know about them? And what happens if you fail one?

Bias in field sobriety test results

VeryWell Health examines the impact of field sobriety test results on your conviction. First, you should not worry about a failed field sobriety test condemning you on its own. In fact, failed field sobriety tests often get taken with a grain of salt by judges.

Why? Put simply, these tests do not provide any scientific measurement of a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level. Blood and breath tests provide numbers, even if those numbers can host inaccuracies. By comparison, the results of a field sobriety test depend on an officer’s measurement.

Standard vs. non-standard tests

Standardized field sobriety tests attempt to address that problem, giving officers across the country a rubric to grade by. Compared to non-standardized tests, officers may only use three standardized tests. These tests include the walk-and-turn, the horizontal gaze nystagmus and the one-legged stand.

Non-standardized tests vary and can include everything from counting backward from 100 to touching your finger to the tip of your nose. Judges will often take these test results with an even bigger grain of salt.

But they often view all field sobriety test results that way. However, do not write them off entirely. An officer may use a failed field sobriety test as an excuse to do further testing, such as breath or blood analysis tests. These tests can give you more trouble if you fail.