Field Sobriety Testing seems to be drought with confusion and misconceptions. Let's try to eliminate some of that and at the same time give you some feeling related to your rights when stopped under the suspicion of driving as a suspected impaired driver.
To attempt to determine whether a suspect is impaired, police officers will administer what is known as a "field sobriety test" to determine whether the officer has Probable Cause to arrest an individual for the suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). In some states the offense is referred to as "driving while intoxicated" (DWI),"operating while impaired" (OWI), or "operating a vehicle under the influence" (OVI). Such laws may also apply to boating and piloting aircraft.
A police officer in the United States must have Probable Cause to make an arrest for driving while under the influence (DUI). In establishing probable cause for a DUI arrest officers frequently consider the suspects performance of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed a system for field sobriety tests that lead to the creation of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) battery of tests. The NHTSA established a standard battery of three roadside tests that are recommended to be administered in a standardized manner in making this arrest decision. There are Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests as well However, the NSFST have not received NHTSA validation. The NHTSA has published numerous training manuals associated with SFSTA's. As a result, the Walk-and-Turn test was determined to be 68%accurate whether a test subject is at or above 0.08% and the One Leg Stand Test was determined to be 65% accurate in predicting whether a test subject is at or above 0.08% when the tests are properly administered to people within the study parameters.
The three validated tests by NHTSA are:
*The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, which involves following an object with the eyes to determine characteristic eye movement to the stimulus.
*The Walk-and-Turn Test 9heel-to-toe in a straight line) This test is designed to measure a person's ability to follow directions and remember a series of steps while dividing attention between physical and mental tasks.
* The One-Leg-Stand test.
In the US, the field sobriety tests are voluntary, however, some states mandate commercial drivers accept preliminary breath tests (PBT). In some states, the state may present evidence of refusal to take a field sobriety test in court.
In the recent wake of legalized marijuana, law enforce has sought a method of breath testing to determine the content of THC present in an individual. Law enforcement efficiently combats DUI with tool like breathalyzers during field sobriety tests. Excluding edibles, a THC breathalyzer has the potential to measure how "high" an individual may be a that time. The legalizing of marijuana does not entail safety on the road, and accurate methods have become required to determine drivers impairment. A THC breathalyzer could revolutionize road sobriety testing for drivers suspected of impairment.
In summary, all of this testing and reporting has one purpose in mind---making the highways we travel safe for those of us who obey the driving laws. It is suggested that each person review the laws in their area associated with the testing methods mentioned above to accurately determine you rights when stopped as a suspected impaired driver. Laws may change from county to county and state to state.
More next time--stay tuned!