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Are field sobriety test results condemning?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2020 | Criminal Law |

Montana drivers like you understand that the state laws crack down on DUI driving in a harsh way. Because of that, you should familiarize yourself with the tools officers may use if they suspect you of driving under the influence. 

The first thing you are likely to see is a field sobriety test. But if you fail one, where will you end up? 

How field sobriety tests work

FieldSobrietyTests.org examine all information on field sobriety tests. They start by discussing standardized versus non-standardized field sobriety tests. Standardized tests see more use due to their universal rubric. This allows officers to eliminate some personal bias which may otherwise influence how they grade people taking the test. There are only three types of standardized tests and numerous non-standardized ones. 

Officer bias and error margins

But all forms of field sobriety testing come with the risk of personal bias affecting the end result. Field sobriety tests are not an exact science. They rely on the officer’s examination of how a person acts and reacts to orders. There are many explanations for failed field sobriety tests that have nothing to do with alcohol. For example, an officer may think you have poor balance due to a high blood alcohol content (BAC) level. In reality, you struggle with balance due to an inner ear infection. 

Because of the wide margin of error in this form of testing, field sobriety tests are rarely if ever used as solid evidence in court. More often, the results see use as probable cause to arrest, allowing an officer to take you into custody. If you fail one of these tests, it is not the end. But you should take your case seriously from the start and seek legal help as soon as possible.