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Does the type of field sobriety test make a difference?

Officers often use field sobriety tests if they suspect a driver is under the influence of a substance. There are two primary types: standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests. In this post, we will examine how these two tests differ. 

 

Standardized test

Standardized field sobriety tests are more common. This is because they have a rubric by which officers analyze test results. This keeps officers from using bias to determine whether someone has passed or failed a test. Courts consider standardized tests to be more objective. Because of this, courts view them as more reliable pieces of evidence. But you should keep in mind that any field sobriety test can be used as supplementary evidence in court. 

Non-standardized test

Non-standardized field sobriety tests do not have concrete rubrics – giving the officer more freedom to use their own judgement in determining results. This means personal bias and other factors have the potential to sway the result they choose. Courts view non-standardized tests as a bit less reliable for this reason. Officers are less likely to use them because they may not be strong evidence. 

There are many non-standardized field sobriety tests. By comparison, there are only three standardized tests – all of which have been certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This may explain why officers are more likely to use standardized tests. It is easier to keep track of three tests as opposed to dozens.

Regardless of the type of field sobriety test an officer may administer, it’s important to understand that no test is infallible. If you are facing an impaired driving charge, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help to build a strong defense for your case.

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