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Are Field Sobriety Tests Valid?

Everyone is familiar with some of the tests officers will administer to a suspected drunk driver, whether they have taken one themselves or just seen them on TV. These tests are used by police officers all over the country, and are widely considered fair evidence of intoxication (even though they may not be admissible evidence in court.) Many people are surprised to learn the truth, which is that there is very little solid scientific evidence supporting the validity of these tests.

If you are facing legal charges related to a failed field sobriety test, you need knowledgeable and aggressive legal protection. Rhode Island field sobriety test lawyer Matthew Marin can help you build a strong case and will argue persuasively on your behalf. Call our offices at 401-622-9006.

Questionable Tests

While police officers across the country use a variety of different sobriety tests, only three have been scientifically evaluated. These three tests involve having the suspect walk a straight line and turn, follow a pen being moved back and forth by an officer, and stand on one leg.

Research has not shown these tests to be very effective. In a 1981 study, only one third of people judged “intoxicated” based on their test performances actually had blood alcohol contents of .10 or above (the legal limit at the time). Based on evidence like this, field sobriety tests have been called “designed for failure.” In other words, a person who is not intoxicated can easily fail them.

Several different variables can affect a person’s performance in field sobriety tests, including:

  • Errors made by the administering officer
  • Certain health conditions
  • Weather conditions and time of day (most of these tests are administered late at night)
  • The suspect’s age
  • Fear and anxiety created by the officer

If you are ever asked to complete a field sobriety test, remember that they are fully optional and largely stacked against you. For more information about your legal rights, call Rhode Island DWI defense attorney Matthew Marin.

Contact Us

Rhode Island DUI defense lawyer Matthew Marin has successfully defended clients in a variety of cases. Contact our offices at 401-622-9006.