What are standardized field sobriety tests?

If a North Carolina officer suspects you of driving under the influence, they may ask you to take certain tests. You have likely heard of blood or breath analysis tests. But have you heard of field sobriety tests?

These tests may end up as the first brush you have with law enforcement trying to determine your sobriety. They can also lead to further testing, depending on the results.

Why are standardized field sobriety tests used?

FieldSobrietyTests.org look at standardized field sobriety tests first. It is one of two primary categories that tests fall into. The other is non-standardized field sobriety testing. You are more likely to see standardized field sobriety tests, though.

Why? Because they help eliminate officer bias. All standardized field sobriety tests have a rubric by which officers grade you. Having this standardization makes it less likely for officer bias to sneak through and result in unnecessary arrests.

Types of field sobriety tests

There are three types of standardized field sobriety tests. They are the walk-and-turn, the one-legged stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Each test checks different aspects of your demeanor that alcohol might affect. For example, the last test checks your nystagmus. This waver of the eye happens in everyone, but becomes more pronounced after consuming alcohol. The one-legged stand and walk-and-turn both check your balance and dexterity. All tests will scrutinize how well you can listen to and carry out instructions.

Field sobriety tests are often an officer’s first way to gauge if further testing should happen. As such, failed field sobriety tests do not typically see use in court as condemning evidence. You should still take field sobriety tests seriously though, as they can lead to arrest or further testing.