FAQ About Standardized Sobriety Testing

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Standardized sobriety tests are those tests that will most likely be admissible as evidence during the trial phase. They were created with the intention of allowing officers to determine probable cause, and ascertain whether they should arrest someone on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A DUI charge is serious, but with the help of standardized sobriety tests, the officer no longer has to rely solely on breathalyzer and similar blood alcohol concentration tests to know whether a person should have been arrested.

You still have rights, though, and there are some rules that officers must follow when administering standardized sobriety tests. Here are some common answers to questions that are asked by those arrested for DUI, based on these rules.

Do police officers have to be trained to tell people how to do the standardized field sobriety tests?

Yes, most states require that officers undergo training and periodic refresher courses in order to administer any kind of sobriety test. This is true whether it is a standardized, non-standardized, or BAC test. Without training, the result of the test may not be admissible as evidence.

Can the prosecutor use the officer's assessment during the standardized test administration against me in court?

Most courts will use the assessment of the officer as a means of determining whether he/she had a reason to arrest someone based on impairment or evidence of intoxication. They are most often admissible as evidence in conjunction with other forms of evidence, such as blood alcohol concentration, BAC, test results, including blood, breath, and urine samples.

If I fail the Breathalyzer test, will I still have to do standardized sobriety tests?

Normally, sobriety tests are given BEFORE an officer arrests you and the breath test is given after you are taken back to the station. These are tools for officers to determine probable cause for arrest. Other observations made by the officer to determine probable cause for arrest include driving skills, such as running off the road or driving really fast, or the driver's behavior, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes.

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