If an officer pulls you over in a routine traffic stop, they might find a reason to launch an investigation into your level of sobriety. While most people think immediately of breath analysis tests like the Breathalyzer, this is usually not the first tool an officer will rely on.
Instead, they will put you through one or more field sobriety tests. In particular, you will likely face a standardized version of these tests. But what exactly does this mean for you?
Signs officers watch for
VeryWell Mind examines standardized field sobriety tests. First: what is a field sobriety test? This way of checking for one’s sobriety level relies entirely on how an officer perceives your behavior and physical state. These tests will often check things like balance, dexterity and ability to follow instructions, while an officer also keeps an eye out for additional warning signs like the smell of alcohol or belligerent, “drunk” behavior.
The creation of standardized test rubrics
Obviously, a test that relies entirely on officer interpretation leaves a lot of room for bias. In order to combat that, standardization of these tests occurred. The introduction of standardization allowed for the creation of rubrics now used across the country, detailing what constitutes potential intoxicated behavior, i.e. what failing the test looks like.
Due to these restrictions, only three forms of standardized field sobriety tests currently exist. This includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn and the one-legged stand. However, even with standardization, officer bias may still play an impactful role in how results end up interpreted.
Thus, if you fail a field sobriety test, you may have room to contest it. Consider contacting legal help to look further into your options.