Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in Pennsylvania DUI Cases

If you were arrested for Pennsylvania DUI, the police probably asked you to take a field sobriety test before taking you into custody. Don't feel bad if you "failed" your field sobriety test - almost everyone does. These tests are designed to be failed. They exist to provide probable cause for drunk driving arrests and to create evidence to prosecute accused DUI drivers. The Pennsylvania DUI attorneys at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will review your field sobriety test performance to determine whether this evidence can be effectively challenged.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) has standardized three field sobriety tests - the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. These three tests have more credibility than non-standardized field sobriety tests, but your results may still be open to challenge by your Pennsylvania DUI attorney.

Non-standardized field sobriety tests are even less reliable than those endorsed by the NHTSA, so they carry even less evidentiary weight in court. These non-standardized tests include the Rhomberg balance test, the counting backward test, and the ABC test, among others.

Police say that field sobriety tests accurately assess the mental and physical impairment caused by alcohol intoxication, but many of the so-called signs of impairment that police watch for when administering the tests may be attributable to physical problems unrelated to alcohol use.

This is essential to Pennsylvania DUI defense, because experts agree that alcohol use always triggers mental impairment before it causes physical impairment. Those with a high tolerance for alcohol can often hide physical impairment, but mental impairment cannot be masked. Therefore, if your test result demonstrated physical problems but no mental impairment, any physical issues must have stemmed from causes unrelated to alcohol use.

There are many conditions unrelated to alcohol use that could have caused you to perform poorly on a field sobriety test, including illness, injury, disability or fatigue. The Pennsylvania DUI attorneys at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will gather information from you and attempt to mount an effective challenge to field sobriety test evidence in your drunk driving case.