Beginning in 1975, the United States Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied nearly every field sobriety test that is frequently implemented by police officers. The results of the study were published in 1977. Of the sobriety tests studied, three were determined to have good correlation with impairment, but only when they are used together and when they are administered in strict compliance with the guidelines of the tests. These three tests are now standardized. The validated tests were the one leg stand, walk and turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus.
Some Tests Are Not Validated
However, in actual practice, there are many police officers who regularly have drivers go through a battery of unvalidated tests. The reliability of some of the tests has been explored, but not all the various field exercises have been screened for reliability. For example, there is plenty of data available on the Romberg and nystagmus tests because those tests have clinical origins. Others have not been adequately studied or validated as meaningful indicators showing a driver is impaired. Some tests are even used with no studies at all to support their use. There are some tests that simply look for flaws in divided attention ability.
Contact a Field Sobriety Test Lawyer
If you believe you have been the victim of an improper sobriety test, contact the Law Office of Blackie Burak at (925) 933-4500 for a consultation. Police officers can make mistakes, and when those mistakes involve offering tests that are unreliable or have not been validated, you might pay the price. In some situations, charges may be brought against innocent drivers, especially if those drivers simply failed tests built to check divided attention ability. A lawyer may be able to help you if an improper field sobriety test led to charges.