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What role do field sobriety tests play?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2021 | criminal defense, drunk driving defense |

When an officer pulls you over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, they have several options. Many will choose to give you a field sobriety test first. This allows them to decide if they should pursue further testing.

But if an officer has other tests they can use, what role do field sobriety tests play?

How courts view field sobriety tests

Very Well Mind takes a closer look at field sobriety tests. They come in two forms: standardized and non-standardized. An officer may use either, but will likely rely on standardized first. Why? Because they come with a uniform rubric that allows officers to cut down on the influence and interference of personal cognitive bias.

Despite this, courts still acknowledge that field sobriety tests are not an exact science. In fact, more often than not, these tests end up treated as supplementary evidence at best. They may see use as supporting evidence for other failed tests, like blood or breath analysis tests. An officer might also rely on field sobriety test results to prove that they had probable cause to arrest you.

Why do field sobriety tests come first?

Even knowing this, officers tend to lead with field sobriety tests for a variety of reasons. First, they are less invasive than blood or breath analysis tests. It is also easier in general to get a driver to agree to a field sobriety test.

In essence, you should not worry too much if you fail a field sobriety test. It does not mean you will end up convicted. At the same time, you should not completely write it off, either. Doing so could result in you getting taken by surprise in court.