As a driver, it is important to familiarize yourself with tools that officers use to detect alcohol consumption and use. Field sobriety tests serve as one of them.
What should you know about field sobriety testing? How accurate is it? What purpose does it serve? And if you fail a field sobriety test, what does that mean for you?
Standardized vs. non-standardized tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration examines the purpose of field sobriety testing. First, what are field sobriety tests? These tests measure your potential blood alcohol content (BAC) level through a series of physical activities. Examples include touching your nose, counting backward from 50 and standing on one leg.
An officer may administer a standardized or non-standardized test. There are three types of standardized tests because each one has a unified rubric that all officers must use. By comparison, non-standardized tests end up subjected to an officer’s individual judgment. This creates room for bias which may impact test results.
Field sobriety test results
Field sobriety tests do not follow an exact science. There is room for error and bias. Because of this, field sobriety test results do not see use in court as hard evidence. Thus, if you fail a field sobriety test, you may not have as much to worry about as you think.
But an officer can still use a failed test result in their attempt to arrest you. This can lead to a case against you which may lead to a conviction if you are not careful. It is important to take any potential charge against you seriously because of this.