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Why are there two types of field sobriety test?

When an officer suspects you of driving under the influence on a routine traffic stop, what actions can they take? They will likely start by giving you a test to check your possible sobriety levels.

A field sobriety test is likely among the first that you will face. But what is the purpose of these tests? What should you know about them?

Standard vs. non-standard tests

VeryWell Mind takes a look at field sobriety tests. First, there are two types of field sobriety tests: standardized and non-standardized. Standardized tests see the most use. They have a unified rubric by which all officers across the country must judge the results. This compares to non-standardized tests, which do not have any rubric of measurement.

Standardized tests came into being as a direct result of officer bias influencing test results. Without a rubric, the judgment of a field sobriety test fell entirely on the officer hosting it. This meant that ingrained prejudice and bias could and would often alter their opinion and interpretation of potential signs of a DUI crime.

The flaws in standardized testing

However, standardized tests are still not perfect. The field sobriety test is not considered the most reliable of the DUI tests. Officers often use it to prove they have reasonable cause for arrest, or to continue with other forms of testing. Breath or blood analysis tests may follow, the results of which hold more sway in court.

In short, do not panic if you fail a field sobriety test. The results alone do not mean much. But they can still lead to further consequences later on, so you still want to treat it seriously.

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