Question: What separates the three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests from non-standardized tests such as reciting the alphabet or counting backwards in Michigan OWI cases?
Answer: Standard field sobriety tests are standardized, which means there is one way to instruct, one way to demonstrate, one way to score, and one way to perform. The standardized method is to ensure reliability and accuracy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration implemented these tests based upon studies concluding reliability or correlation of subjects under the influence or impairment of alcohol, and the number of clues associated with the particular test.
If an officer deviates from standardized instruction or demonstration or the scoring, it compromises the reliability of the conclusion. We, our attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm, have all completed the same training for standard field sobriety tests that officers receive, and we know exactly how it’s supposed to be done. Now if we contrast that with other common field tests, the significant difference is reliability. ABCs, the counting test, finger-to-nose have absolutely no scientific and no correlation to impairment of alcohol. They have, however, been used by law enforcement for so long that it continues today, almost by tradition versus any scientific reliability.