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Are field sobriety test results proof of guilt?

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2020 | DUI Defense |

Illinois drivers like you may face sobriety testing if suspected of DUI. Officers will likely give you a field sobriety test before anything else. Depending on the results, they may request more testing of you. 

You may feel like failing a sobriety test is an instant condemnation. In reality, the examination of field sobriety test results is more complex than you may think. Passing or failing these tests does not clear or condemn you. 

Officer bias affects field sobriety test results

FieldSobrietyTests.org look into the division between standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests. The tests got divided in this way for a reason. Non-standardized field sobriety tests have too much room for officer bias. The only measurement used in these tests is an officer’s personal judgment. In comparison, a standardized field sobriety test has a rubric. All officers must use this to judge your results. 

Testing format allows for too many variables

But even standardized field sobriety tests have their weaknesses. There are many factors that the rubric does not cover. For example, rubrics warn officers to check for poor balance. But there are plenty of reasons you may not have good balance. Maybe you injured your leg. Maybe you have a medical condition like an ear infection. This can impact your equilibrium. 

This is why field sobriety tests are often the “first line” in a series of testing. Blood and breath tests are not foolproof either. But in court, the results from these tests hold more weight than a failed field sobriety test. Because of this, you will not likely face conviction on a failed field sobriety test alone. Often, you may not even get arrested or charged to begin with.