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DUI » DUI Testing » Field Sobriety Tests » Are FSTs Accurate?

Are Field Sobriety Tests Accurate?

Field sobriety testing is an important part of any DUI case. These tests may be used to establish “probable cause” that a driver is intoxicated, allowing a police officer to make an arrest for DUI and therefore ask the driver to submit to breath or blood testing to determine his or her blood alcohol concentration. The outcome of field sobriety tests may also be used as evidence against a driver in proving that his or her abilities were impaired, one of the ways a driver may be guilty of driving under the influence in Florida.

Inaccuracy of Field Sobriety Testing

We’ve established that field sobriety tests are important, but are they accurate? Can they really prove that a driver is “under the influence” of alcohol? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), oversaw research that resulted in the development of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, or SFSTs. These tests provide more accuracy in determining whether a driver is intoxicated, but even when properly administered they are not completely accurate. According to a study conducted by Stuster & Burns in 1998, if all three SFSTs are conducted exactly per procedure, they are accurate in 91% of cases.

There are a few issues that add to the inaccuracy of these tests:

  • The use of non-standardized field sobriety tests;
  • Improper instructions by the officer administering the test;
  • Improper grading of a driver’s performance on a test or tests;
  • Improperly administered tests; and
  • Factors not related to alcohol that influence a driver’s performance, such as: high-heeled shoes, physical illness, injury, age, weight or nervousness.

Find out how we can approach your case and challenge field sobriety tests to help you seek a positive result. With our experience and our understanding of these tests and their faults, we can build an aggressive defense strategy.

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