Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: They Don’t Work
The National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration’s standardized field sobriety tests were developed based on a 1977 study. The subjects of this study had blood alcohol content levels ranging from zero to .15 percent. Though there was such a large different between the test subjects, there was a 47 percent error rate in determining a person’s impairment after administering the standardized field sobriety tests. 47%! This means that almost half of the people were misidentified by police officers as being drunk when in fact they were not. What is worse, one of the researchers agreed that the tests are problematic because there is no correlation between a person’s ability to perform a”stupid human trick” like the standardized field sobriety tests battery: One Leg Stand, Walk & Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test and a person’s ability to operate a vehicle. Despite the scientific flaws with the standardized field sobriety tests, they are used throughout Ohio to establish probable cause for an arrest.
You are also subjected to a great variance in the officer’s understanding of the tests and his or her ability to competently administer the standardized field sobriety tests. Some officers have not been trained in the administration of the standardized field sobriety tests, some have not been updated since they took the course at the police academy and others simply do not know how to administer standardized field sobriety tests in a manner that would make them indicative of impairment. In the hands of a well-trained professional, these tests can act as a rudimentary screen for impairment. In other hands they can give a false veneer of science to a bad arrest.
You and your DUI defense attorney also have to take into account the typical DUI investigation. Standardized field sobriety tests are divided attention tests, meaning that if there is a problem that is affecting the driver’s ability to concentrate, it will also affect how he or she performs on the test. What could affect a person’s concentration more than the flashing lights of a police car in the middle of the night while attempting to walk in a straight line. This does not even take into account that some people cannot and should not be screened by standardized field sobriety tests because they would find these tests difficult to pass even under ideal conditions. Police officers are not scientists. As such we see scientific gains stymied by human error or incompetence when it comes to the administration of standardized field sobriety tests. It is vital that your DUI defense attorney understand and implement the latest science in your defense.
Attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio. He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself Dayton’s choice for drunk driving defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at (937) 318-1384 or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). If you need assistance after hours, call the 24/7 DUI Hotline at (937) 776-2671. You can have DaytonDUI at your fingertips by downloading the DaytonDUI Android App or have DaytonDUI sent directly to your mobile device by texting DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Facebook, @DaytonDUI on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pheed and Pintrest or get RSS of the Ohio DUI blog. You can email CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or visit his office at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324. “All I do is DUI defense.”
Find information on standardized field sobriety tests and other city-specific info at the following links: