Field Sobriety Tests That Can Be Disputed

Despite the existence of standardized field sobriety tests, police sometimes opt to use tests not validated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These non-standardized tests often supplement standardized ones yet don’t provide as much leverage in making DWI arrests. Below are some of the non-standardized tests a lawyer can dispute due to their status.

ABC/123 Test

This test requires the driver to recite the alphabet or count either normally or backwards. As it’s difficult to think with an intoxicated mind, failing the test often immediately leads to a DWI arrest. However, critics claim that the test is unreliable, especially for non-English speaking drivers and those with speech impediments.

Romberg Balance Test

The Romberg balance test requires the driver to stand—feet together, head slightly tilted to the back, and eyes closed—and wait for 30 seconds. Upon reaching the time limit, the driver should return to the default standing position and say “Stop.” The problem with this test is that while it is easy to establish a baseline in a clinical setting, determining a person’s baseline is almost always impossible in a law enforcement situation.

Finger-to-Nose Test

Once a standardized field sobriety test, the finger-to-nose test is now used as an alternative to the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand. The officer will ask the driver to touch his nose with the correct index finger. This seems easy enough but not when one is drunk. Furthermore, dashboard video cameras on police cars can’t capture the test’s veracity clearly.

Seth Blum is an experienced attorney in Raleigh, NC. To contact him please call 919-832-7700 or visit Blum, PLLC | Raleigh Criminal Lawyers


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