What Field Sobriety Tests Are Used Today?



    pa1In the 1970’s the Federal Government, with a grant, put together scientists all over the country, and their job was to formulate and create with scientific reliability and validity standardized test to be used throughout the entire country, which was to be done at the scene, sobriety tests, SFSTs. Prior to that, and even today in some jurisdictions, the test they use at the scene have had no chemical validity, no scientific validity.

    In the old days they would have you recite the alphabet. There’s no scientific reliability that that would demonstrate you’re intoxicated. They would have you do the alphabet backwards. They would have you do the alphabet in mid-letter. They would have you do what’s called a Romberg Test, which you touch your finger to your nose, with your eyes closed, leaning backwards. There has been demonstrated no scientific reliability that proves anything.

    They would take three coins, put them on the ground, and have you pick up the coins in numerical order, and put them on the edge of a table with half hanging on, half hanging off. I don’t know about you, but when I took my driving test, I didn’t have to do that to prove I could drive a car. The Federal Government got together, and they came up with three standardized, uniform, field sobriety tests.

    The first type of field sobriety test that police officers use today is the walk and turn test, which is only roughly 68% accurate. The second type of field sobriety test is the one-leg stand test to determine your balance and the third SFTS is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which looks at the involuntary movements in an individual’s eye. These field sobriety tests are what police officers use to determine whether or not they can have any legitimate evidence against the person that they have pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

    If you are in need of legal counsel in New York State, please feel free to contact Grunwald & Seman, P.C. and we would be happy to assist you. 

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