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Field Sobriety Tests - Driving While Impaired

One of the first things we talk about in consultations with new clients is whether they were given field sobriety tests before the law enforcement officer charged them with Driving While Impaired.

What is a Field Sobriety Test and what makes one Standardized? These are very good questions. Just today I interviewed an officer who had not received standardized field sobriety test training and was administering tests that have never been scientifically validated. The true difference between a field sobriety test and a standardized test is that the standardized test has been scientifically validated.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests include:

  • Nystagmus testing - both horizontal and vertical
  • One Leg Stand Test
  • Walk and Turn Test

These are the only tests that are validated and have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is the preeminent organization that provides materials and training for law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Non-validated tests include:

  • Touching finger to thumb
  • Touching finger to nose
  • Walking in a straight line
  • Stating the ABCs backwards
  • Touching the tip of a pen
  • And many other variations

Field sobriety tests are the basis for Probable Cause to arrest someone for Driving While Impaired. If there are critical errors in the tests then it can invalidate them and render them unreliable.

If you were asked to perform field sobriety tests and the ones you performed were not Standardized or validated or even Standardized tests then you need to speak with an experienced DWI attorney.

Joshua Nielsen has completed and received his certification from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration course for Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and knows when officers have made mistakes in administering the tests. It is very important to have an experienced trial attorney who can find where the law enforcement officer made mistakes.

Its your license, its your livelihood - take it seriously, we do.

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