Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in Pennsylvania DUI Investigations

If you're like most drivers arrested for a Pennsylvania DUI, the police probably asked you to perform a field sobriety test before taking you into custody. Don't be surprised if you failed your field sobriety test - nearly everyone does. Police use these tests to establish probable cause for a drunk driving arrest and to create additional evidence for a prosecution. Your Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will review your field sobriety test performance to determine whether it can be challenged.

Police use two types of field sobriety tests in Pennsylvania DUI investigations - standardized and non-standardized. The three field sobriety tests standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are the walk and turn test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the one-leg stand test.

Non-standardized field sobriety tests are considered such unreliable gauges of intoxication that they aren't endorsed by the NHTSA. However, police investigating Pennsylvania DUI cases still employ these tests. Non-standardized field sobriety tests include the finger-to-nose test, the Rhomberg balance test, the hand pat test, the finger tap test, the ABCs, and the counting backward test.

Because these tests aren't standardized by the NHTSA, they should carry less evidentiary weight in a Pennsylvania DUI prosecution, and may be more susceptible to challenge. Unlike standardized field sobriety tests, these exercises don't have precise instructions and objective scoring systems, which means the officer's opinion alone determines whether you pass or fail.

Non-standardized field sobriety tests also rely heavily on physical dexterity, and that may be another avenue to challenge your results. Experts agree that alcohol consumption always causes mental impairment before any physical impairment occurs. While those with a high tolerance for alcohol can often mask physical impairment, mental impairment cannot be disguised. Therefore, if your field sobriety test performance demonstrated physical difficulties but no mental impairment, it shouldn't be regarded as evidence of intoxication.

Many issues unrelated to alcohol consumption can cause a driver to perform poorly on a field sobriety test, including injury, illness, fatigue, or even nervousness. Your Pennsylvania DUI attorney at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will determine whether issues unrelated to alcohol use could have caused you to perform poorly on a field sobriety test and whether your results are open to challenge. Please contact us today for a free consultation.