Can field sobriety test results be used against you?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2020 | Firm News

Wisconsin law enforcement use different detection tools on DUI patrols. Field sobriety tests are one of these tools. They are one of the most well known tools as well. But what do you know about their accuracy level? Do you know where the results stand in court? Today we will examine these questions and more. gives a full look at field sobriety tests of all sorts. They examine both standardized and non-standardized tests. Officers tend to use standardized field sobriety tests more often. They have a higher accuracy rate due to the unified rubric that judge test results. Non-standardized tests do not have these same rubrics. The interpretation of tests is up to the individual officer who gives it. This leaves a lot of room for error. Courts take that into consideration when looking at non-standardized test results. 

But even standardized test results are not primary evidence. If used as evidence at all, they are supporting pieces. The accuracy rate of standardized tests is still not 100 percent. In fact, even if you use all three tests, the combined accuracy rate is still less than 90 percent. On their own, each test has an accuracy of around 60 to 80 percent. This is not enough to convict a person. 

The results of a field sobriety test can also have many causes that do not relate to DUI at all. For example, some people have health conditions that affect their balance. These individuals cannot do a walk-and-turn or one-leg stand test. Since so many other factors could be the root cause of a failed sobriety test, it is often a “litmus test”. In other words, officers use it to determine who to test further.