How do officers use field sobriety tests?

How do officers use field sobriety tests?

| Apr 8, 2021 | Drunk driving, DWI |

When an officer pulls you over for a routine traffic stop, they might find reason to run some sobriety tests, too. You are likely to see a standardized field sobriety test before anything like a breath or blood test.

But what is the purpose of a field sobriety test? How much good do they do in the end?

When do officers use these tests?

Very Well Mind discusses the use of field sobriety tests during routine traffic stops. First, officers often use them to see if they might need further testing later. Breath and blood analysis tests are much more invasive than a field sobriety test, especially the latter. An officer will likely not lead with them, especially since it is sometimes hard to get a driver to agree.

However, field sobriety tests leave a lot of room for bias and misinterpretation. An officer can easily believe a negative result is due to alcohol consumption. But the real reason might relate to health conditions, medications or even just sleep deprivation.

How do the courts view them?

Courts will take this into account during a trial. Because of this, many courts do not consider field sobriety test results solid or important evidence. At most, they tend to see use for supporting other proof of DUI. Sometimes, an officer may also use them as proof that they had a reasonable cause to arrest you.

Still, you should not take field sobriety tests lightly. Nor should you completely dismiss a failed field sobriety test result. Just know it is not the end of you if you do fail one. Be prepared to face it in court.