Police or patrol officers often use formal and informal field sobriety tests to help them determine if the driver of a motor vehicle is impaired. The Breathalyzer is a formal test that measures the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath. In Maryland, a person who registers over the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content can be arrested for drunk driving.
Even when someone registers below a .08 BAC, a police officer can still make an arrest if her or she has probable cause to believe that the driver was impaired at the time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed and trains officers across the country on three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. What are they and what do they test?
The three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests sanctioned by the NHTSA are:
The reality is that these tests are not as reliable as the NHTSA may think or data may show. While they might indicate impairment for some people, other people may be unable to pass the test sober. Try the one-leg-stand test; can you hold the pose for 30 seconds? Even Breathalyzers are notoriously prone to device and human error.
Anyone who is arrested for DUI after failing any combination of these field sobriety tests should know that their situation is not hopeless. They should always invoke their right to an attorney and get individualized legal advice.
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