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What are standardized field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2020 | DUI

In Pennsylvania, officers have plenty of tools to determine a driver’s sobriety level. One of these tools are field sobriety tests. There are two different types. They are standardized and non-standardized. Between the two, standardized tests are more common.

It is important to understand why officers use these tests more often. You should also know what they are and what they check. This will help you handle them if an officer administers them in the future.

Why are standardized tests used?

FieldSobrietyTests.org take a look at how standardized field sobriety testing works. First, there are only three types of standardized field sobriety tests. Compare this to non-standardized tests, of which there are many. There are fewer standardized tests because they share a universal rubric. All officers who use these tests must compare the results to the rubric. Non-standardized tests do not have this rubric. The officer giving the test is the one who decides whether someone passes or fails. This allows room for bias, which is why non-standardized tests do not see as much use.

What do standardized tests check?

Standardized tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn and the one-legged stand. Each test checks certain areas that alcohol may impact. These areas include:

  • Balance
  • Concentration
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Temperament at the time of the test
  • Coordination

It is important to note that these tests are not foolproof. The science behind them is not perfect. For that reason, results from field sobriety tests do not work as primary evidence. The results often act as indicators toward needing further testing. Thus, do not consider your battle over if you fail a field sobriety test.

Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Defense: Law, Tactics, and Procedure | by Patrick F. Lauer, Jr. | Revere Legal Publishers