How do officers use field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2021 | dui defense |

When pulled over in a routine traffic stop, an officer might administer a field sobriety test. They could use this to determine if you are driving while intoxicated. It is something of a first line of testing, but you should not take it lightly.

Instead, you should arm yourself with knowledge about field sobriety tests. What are they? How do they work? When and why do officers use them? And what happens if you fail one?

The presence of officer bias

VeryWell Mind goes into detail about the use of field sobriety tests. Officers often use these to decide whether or not they need to administer further testing. There are non-standardized and standardized types of field sobriety testing. The latter sees more frequent use because it helps cut down on the presence of officer bias.

Officer bias can infiltrate field sobriety test results because they are not a precise unit of scientific measurement. This allows room for interpretation of potential “signs of intoxication”. An officer’s bias toward an individual may shine through here, causing them to interpret signs uncharitably when they otherwise would not.

How courts use field sobriety test results

Because of this, courts do not put a lot of weight on field sobriety test results. These results often end up used as supporting evidence for other test results, such as breath or blood analysis tests. An officer might also use the result to prove they had probable cause to arrest.

In other words, you should not worry too much about a failed field sobriety test. But you should not completely write it off, either, as it may still see use in court.