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Why are standardized field sobriety tests more common?

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2020 | DUI Defense

In Pennsylvania, drivers like you may face field sobriety tests if suspected of driving under the influence. There are several tests under this umbrella and two different categories of testing.

In general, you are most likely to run into standardized field sobriety tests. But why is this the case? What is a standardized field sobriety test?

Standardized tests have less bias

FieldSobrietyTests.org examine the differences between non-standardized and standardized field sobriety tests. Standardized field sobriety tests have an edge over non-standardized ones. In essence, there is a rubric that defines pass or fail qualifications for these tests. This means officers across the country use the same system to score these test results. This helps cut out officer bias.

The three types of standardized tests

There are also only three types of standardized field sobriety tests, compared to the many types of non-standardized tests. These three tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn and the one-legged stand.

All three tests focus on checking your ability to follow directions and execute instructions well. The last two also test your balance, mobility and agility. Horizontal gaze nystagmus tests check your eye for a small tremor. This tremor is present in everyone’s gaze even when sober, but alcohol tends to exacerbate the movement and make it very striking.

Even standardized field sobriety tests are not the be-all end-all in terms of evidence, though. You do not have to immediately worry about conviction if you fail a field sobriety test. They have a reputation for being unreliable and serving officer bias. But it should serve as good reason to take your charge seriously.