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Why are standardized field sobriety tests more common?

| Oct 19, 2020 | Firm News |

In Texas, the law cracks down on drivers who hit the road under the influence. When pulled over under suspicion of DWI, the officer may administer tests to check your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. 

But before they turn to breath or blood tests, they may administer a field sobriety test. 

Standardized vs non-standardized tests

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discusses the intention behind field sobriety tests. They act as litmus tests, allowing an officer to get an idea of whether they should conduct further testing. They do not serve as an exact science, nor can failed test results prove DWI crimes occurred. 

There are two types of field sobriety tests: standardized and non-standardized. You are most likely to run into standardized testing because it helps eliminate officer bias to a degree. This is because standardized field sobriety tests share a rubric across the states. Officers use this to make their judgment call, rather than relying entirely on their own sense of what a pass or fail looks like. 

Three standardized field sobriety tests

There are only three types of standardized field sobriety tests as well, making them easier to keep track of. They include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn and the one-legged stand. The first test examines your eyes for a tremor which often grows more pronounced after you consume alcohol. The last two test your balance and coordination. All three test your ability to listen to and follow instructions. 

But because of the inconsistent nature of these tests, they are not used as condemning evidence in court. Thus, if you fail a field sobriety test, you do not have to worry about immediate conviction.