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What is a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

When an officer pulls you over under reasonable suspicion, they may ask you to take a field sobriety test. This is one of many tools in the law enforcer’s arsenal, used to determine whether or not an individual might have hit the road while under the influence.

It is important to understand the definition and use of field sobriety tests, as well as how their results may affect a court case.

Field sobriety test usage

VeryWell Mind takes a look at field sobriety tests and how officers use them to determine whether or not they should engage in further tests or even make an arrest on the spot. Generally speaking, an officer will use a field sobriety test as a sort of litmus to see if they have a reason to pursue further investigation.

Officer bias and SFSTs

However, it is possible to fail field sobriety tests for many reasons not related to sobriety at all. On top of that, field sobriety tests hold a notorious reputation for allowing officer bias to come through. In fact, officer bias posed such a problem that it resulted in the creation of an entirely new type of field sobriety test: standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs).

To this day, courts still hold the possibility of officer bias in mind when making decisions based on evidence found via SFSTs or non-standardized tests, which see less frequent use. Thus, those who face a failed SFST should not necessarily worry. Still, it is best to approach the situation as prepared as possible. Thus, anyone facing a failed SFST result should consider seeking legal aid.