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How accurate are field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Michigan law enforcement may use field sobriety tests during a DUI stop. They use these tests to determine if they should proceed with breath or blood tests. But what should you know about field sobriety tests first? How accurate are they? How can they impact you?, a resource on information about these tests, has an answer. They examine the accuracy of field sobriety tests from many angles. First, note that field sobriety tests are not a scientifically proven way to charge a DUI. This is why results are often used as supplementary evidence. It supports other findings rather than standing on its own as proof. 

The original accuracy of a field sobriety test was below 50 percent. To raise this, they picked three of the most accurate tests. These three tests were then given standards for officers to judge with. After the standardization of these tests, accuracy rose 10 to 20 percent. When officers give all three tests, the accuracy jumps to around 82 percent. 

But 82 percent is still not 100 percent. There are many reasons for field sobriety test results giving false flags. For example, some medical conditions affect a driver’s balance. Because of that, they are not able to complete the walk-and-turn test. They may not be able to do the one-leg stand test, either. That only leaves one test unaffected by balance. 

Field sobriety test results are not going to condemn anyone facing DUI charges. This is important to keep in mind. There are flaws in even the most accurate of the tests. Courts will never use them alone without corresponding evidence.