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What should you know about field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2020 | Drunk Driving Defense |

Illinois cracks down hard on anyone accused of driving under the influence. You should know as much as possible about the tools used by law enforcement. 

Today we will focus on field sobriety tests. Officers often use these tests as a “first line”. Based on results, they may administer other tests like blood or breath tests. But what should you know about field sobriety tests themselves? 

Standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests 

First, you must understand the categories these tests fall under. FieldSobrietyTests.org look at both standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests. Officers are more likely to use standardized field sobriety tests. This is because there is less subjectivity in these tests. They have a rubric by which officers grade tests. Non-standardized field sobriety tests rely on the interpretation of each individual officer. Question of personal bias often comes up when examining results from non-standardized tests. 

Types of standardized tests 

There are three standardized field sobriety tests. This includes the walk-and-turn, the one-legged stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Each test checks the recipient’s balance and ability to follow directions. It checks physical stability. Horizontal gaze nystagmus also checks the movement of the eyes. In people with high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, the eye often shakes as it moves side to side. 

There is a relative objectivity to standardized field sobriety tests. But do not feel like the results seal your fate. The court rarely ever relies on field sobriety test results to reach a conviction. It is too easy to explain results through means that have nothing to do with alcohol. Officers understand this. By understanding this too, you can cut down on trial-related stress.