What is a standardized field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2020 | DUI

Pennsylvania residents like you may face a battery of tests if an officer suspects you of driving under the influence. Breath and blood tests have the biggest reputation. One has accuracy issues and the other is an invasive procedure.

There is another common tool for DUI detection, though. Standardized field sobriety tests often come before either breath or blood tests.

Field sobriety tests and officer bias

FieldSobrietyTests.org looks at the purpose of a field sobriety test. These tests do not serve as evidence in court because they rely too heavily on officer bias. Not only that, but you can easily explain the results away. Though a prosecutor may mention them in court, it is often only in passing.

What is the point of them, then? While not counted on as solid evidence, many officers rely on field sobriety tests to pave the way toward other, more reliable forms of testing. In essence, they use field sobriety tests as a litmus strip to determine if you are not driving sober.

The failings of probable suspicion

You should also note that an officer can make an arrest based on probable suspicion, even if you do not take a breath or blood test. If you fail a field sobriety test, an officer may make the executive decision to book you despite lacking any other evidence. They may request for more tests later, like a blood test once you are at the station.

It is important to understand where field sobriety tests fit in to an officer’s tool set. It is also important to know your rights. This includes understanding the refusal to take DUI tests and the repercussions this may have.