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What is the standardized field sobriety test that police use?

When you are pulled over for the suspicion of drunk driving, there are several things that are going to happen. One likely event is that you will be asked to complete a standardized field sobriety test (SFST).

This test is done to determine if the person who was driving was likely too intoxicated to drive safely. The SFST is standardized to ensure consistent results.

What are the three components of the SFST?

The SFST has three components -- the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the walk-and-turn. Each of these tests have specific points that the officer who conducts the test must watch for so they can make a determination about what to do after the test.

Can other tests ever be included in the SFST?

Other tests can't be included in the SFST. However, some officers do perform additional ones. Any additional tests can't be factored into the results of the SFST. Examples of other tests that might be performed include saying the alphabet backwards or doing certain counting exercises.

Are officers trained specifically to administer the SFST?

Police officers must be specifically trained on how to administer the SFST. They must also be trained on how to interpret the tests. Officers who aren't trained in this test shouldn't administer it. In some cases, the officer will have to contact another officer to come out and perform the test. In some cases, the SFST might be bypassed in favor of a the officer conducting a breath test to determine the blood-alcohol concentration of the person who was stopped. Ultimately, even a roadside breath test wouldn't be sufficient for a conviction, so you may have to go take a blood test or a more formal breath test.

Are there any factors that might impact the SFST?

There are several factors that can impact the results of the SFST. People who have medical conditions might have difficulties completing the tests satisfactorily. Think about how a brain injury might impact your ability to balance on one leg, use normal eye movement, or walk without faltering. This is only one example of how medical conditions might impact the test. The condition of the road might have an impact on these tests since they are based on having a flat surface. At night, oncoming traffic could impact the results of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Other factors, such as the interpretation of the officer, can also impact the test's results.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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