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During this time of social distancing, the Law Office of Marla Zide, LLC is offering both phone and video conferencing options for meetings and consultations. You will be able to contact us via phone during regular business hours to schedule.

What are standardized field sobriety tests?

| Nov 21, 2020 | dui/dwi

As a driver in Maryland, it is important to understand how Maryland’s DUI laws work. After all, getting one DUI conviction on record can have a lasting and large impact on your life. 

One of the first things you may run into when an officer suspects you of DUI is a field sobriety test. What are these tests? How do they work? And just how bad is it if you do not perform well?

Why are standardized tests more common?

FieldSobrietyTests.org defines both standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests. Standardized field sobriety tests are more common due to the uniform rubric used to judge them. Non-standardized tests do not have these rubrics. As such, judgment relies entirely on the officer giving the test. This leaves a lot of room for author bias and limits its reliability in court.

 Types of standardized field sobriety tests

The most common  standardized field sobriety tests that police officers administer in Maryland  are the horizontal gaze and nystagmus, the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand. The latter two tests focus on your balance, coordination and physical capabilities. The horizontal gaze and nystagmus test is used to determine the presence of alcohol by a series of tests with only your eyes. Nystagmus is the rapid involuntary movement of the eye  and is normal for many people.  However,  it becomes notably more pronounced  after consuming alcohol.

Standardized field sobriety tests are not a  pass/fail test  Rather, the police officer is trained to detect cues of impairment.  . As such, officers often use them to form the basis to make an arrest.   The most critical part to a good DUI defense is for an experienced attorney to determine if the police officer properly administered the standardized field sobriety tests.  If they were not, then it does not matter how someone performs.