When pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, it is important to know what you may face. An officer will likely do tests to determine how sober you are. The first test they will likely use is a field sobriety test.
But what are these tests? How do they work? How accurate are the results? And most importantly, how will the results affect you?
The presence of officer bias
Very Well Mind takes a look at field sobriety tests and their uses. Officers often use field sobriety tests as a way to determine if they need to apply further testing. This may include breath and blood analysis tests, which often have more reliable results.
Field sobriety test results often end up taken with a grain of salt in court for several reasons. First, they are somewhat crude tools of measurement that rely on observation rather than science. Second, because they rely on observation, they also have plenty of room for officer bias.
Standardized vs. non-standardized
Due to the need for mitigating bias, there are two types of field sobriety tests. Non-standardized are the first, standardized are the second. Non-standardized tests do not have a uniform rubric. This means officer bias happens more often. There are only three standardized field sobriety tests, on the other hand. Each has a standardized rubric, which helps cut down on bias.
No matter what test you take, the purpose remains the same. All tests check your dexterity, balance and ability to follow instructions. Officers also keep an eye out for behavior, the smell of alcohol and potential slurred speech. Using these potential clues, they decide what to do next.