Mark M. Cheser 35 Years of Criminal Defense Experience
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Are field sobriety tests reliable?

Have you or has someone you know been arrested for and charged with a drunk driving offense in New Jersey? If so, you or your friend may have been asked to perform certain actions or have certain abilities tested by law enforcement officers after you were stopped but before you were arrested. Commonly referred to as field sobriety tests, these tests do not have the ability to prove that you are intoxicated or even to determine a level of intoxication. They are instead used to give enough substance to the potential that you may be intoxicated so as to support an officer legally placing you under arrest.

As explained by, these tests are known to have a certain level of potential error in their accuracy. Of the three tests sanctioned for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the individual accuracy rates vary from 77 percent on the high end to 65 percent on the low end. When used together, all three standardized field sobriety tests have an accuracy rate of only 82 percent.

The one-leg stand test is the least accurate of the three. This test may be problematic for anyone with joint, back or balance issues. Even the shoes a person is wearing or the road surface on which they must stand may be an issue.

If you would like to learn more about the tests used in a drunk driving investigation and their overall accuracy or lack thereof, please feel free to visit the drunk driving charges page of our New Jersey criminal defense website.


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