How Valid Are Field Sobriety Tests in DUI Cases? By JWGLAWYER on December 01, 2015

A field sobriety testThe legal team at the Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt are committed to helping clients in and around the East Brunswick area. When it comes to drunk driving cases in particular, having a DUI defense attorney on your side can make a major difference.

Many clients believe that field sobriety tests are accurate at determining intoxication, but they are actually quite flawed for a number of reasons.

What Is a Field Sobriety Test?

A field sobriety test is a type of intoxication assessment that a law enforcement officer can perform after a traffic stop. During a field sobriety test, a police officer will ask the driver of a vehicle to demonstrate sobriety by asking him or her to perform certain tasks. These actions will test the physical and cognitive capabilities of the driver at the time of the traffic stop, allowing the officer to determine if the driver is sober or not.

In many cases, the field sobriety test is followed by another kind of test in order to measure the driver's exact level of intoxication.

Common Parts of a Field Sobriety Test

Some common tasks performed during a field sobriety test include:

  • Walking in a straight line
  • Touching your nose
  • Standing on one foot
  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Counting

It's not uncommon for multiple types of tasks to be performed as part of a field sobriety test.

Do Field Sobriety Tests Measure BAC?


Even though blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a key component of legally determining sobriety and intoxication, field sobriety tests make no such effort to assess BAC. In fact, field sobriety tests are unscientific and in some cases may be entirely subjective.

Nervousness During a Field Sobriety Test Can Lead to Failure

Being pulled over can be a stressful experience, and any type of nervousness or anxiety experienced while doing a field sobriety test could lead to a person failing to perform certain kinds of tasks. You may be totally sober, but the experience of undergoing a field sobriety test may make you seem intoxicated.

Other Flaws with Field Sobriety Tests

Sometimes law enforcement officers will abuse their authority and subject drivers to unfair tasks during field sobriety tests. In addition, law enforcement may also harass and intentionally cause anxiety in a motorist, which all but ensures failure of a field sobriety test.

Problems Exist for More Scientific Measures of Intoxication as Well

Keep in mind that there are also flaws in other kinds of tests that accused drunk drivers are subjected to. Breathalyzer tests, urine tests, and blood tests each have unique flaws in how they are administered, performed, and analyzed that can result in false positives regarding BAC.

How a Drunk Driving Defense Attorney Can Help You

Working with a drunk driving defense lawyer can give you peace of mind. Given the complexities of laws regarding drunk driving, working with a skilled attorney may be your best bet at getting a fair shake from the law.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt

For more information about your legal options following a drunk driving arrest, be sure to contact our law firm today. The team at the Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt will work closely with you to ensure that you receive a strong and fair defense during your case.

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