When an officer pulls someone over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, it is not uncommon for that officer to then request the completion of field sobriety tests.
Thus, it is important for those participating to understand what a field sobriety test is, and what failing one can mean.
Standard vs. non-standardized tests
Field Sobriety Tests discusses the two main categories of these sobriety tests: standard and non-standardized.
The biggest difference between the two is that non-standardized tests often cannot hold weight in court due to the fact that no common rubric exists by which to grade the results. Thus, bias often holds too much sway in these cases.
Only three standardized tests exist, which hold more weight due to their unified grading rubric. This includes the one-leg stand test, the walk-and-turn test, and the HGN (eye) test.
What happens if you fail a field sobriety test?
The good news: failing a test does not automatically mean you have lost your case. Field sobriety tests are a good cursory tool for police to use, but do not stand well on their own as evidence in court. In fact, many courts do not allow field sobriety test results as admissible evidence in the first place.
Thus, a failed sobriety test is not something to focus on too intently. Instead, pay more mind to any tests that might have followed, such as breath or blood analysis tests. These tend to have a bigger impact and more weight in the court.