Explaining what ROADSIDE Tests or SFSTs (standardized field sobriety tests) are Intended to Do
Police officers usually ask drivers whom they suspect of driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol to perform "standardized field sobriety tests." The acronym for these psycho-physical tests is "SFST." Exactly what tests you are asked to perform varies, but may include the officer evaluating your eye tremors as you follow an object with your eyes (horizontal gaze nystagmus), asking you to perform a nine-step heel-to-toe maneuver down a line, turn and then return back down the same line in the same manner, and a leg lift exercise conducted in a specified manner while counting aloud in a manner described by the officer (e.g., "one-thousand one, one-thousand two, etc.). You may be asked "orientation" questions such as the time of day (without looking at your watch), the date, the day of the week or similar orientation questions.
Voluntary Roadside Evaluations are the single Greatest Cause of Flawed DUI Convictions because Jurors Usually BELIEVE the "Tests"
The field sobriety tests are, without a doubt, the greatest source of bad arrests and faulty convictions in DUI-DWI cases in this nation. There are only a few states where refusing to do these tests can be used against you at your trial if it goes that far, while at least one [Oregon] has declared that to do so is a violation of your right against self-incrimination. Virtually no Americans are aware that they have an absolute right to NOT attempt to perform these agility exercises and medically-created evaluations that are being offered by an officer who is marginally trained and often has an arrest quota to fill. Just to name a few reasons to NOT do these evaluations, or attempt to do them, consider the following information:
Work by Scientific Investigators with Training in Psycho-Physical Performance Have Shown that Almost All Officers do the Evaluations Incorrectly
One scientist [J.L. Booker, The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: Fraudulent Science in the American Courts, Science & Justice, Vol. 44, No. 3, p. 133-139 (2004)] reports that in excess of 98% of the officers giving the three NHTSA standardized field sobriety evaluations do them (at least one of the three) incorrectly. The NHTSA training manuals---all of them---state that incorrect administration of the evaluations by the arresting officer "compromises the validity" of the tests.
NHTSA has Foisted Flawed and Non-scientific "Validation Studies" from the 1990s to Claim that Roadside Testing can accurately target 0.08 Arrestees
The original studies (and the so-called "validation studies" that were conducted in the mid-1990s to provide support for correlating NHTSA tests to the new 0.08% blood alcohol standard) were NEVER subjected to "peer review," a process wherein other scientists review the hypothesis presented (i.e., that these evaluations can reliably predict which persons are at or above 0.10% (and in later "studies," at or above 0.08%). This would be equivalent to a company creating a new, potentially dangerous drug and putting on the market (with our government's stamp of approval) without a single independent laboratory source testing the reliability of effectiveness and its side effects or other problems.
Poorly Trained or Untrained Judges "Buy Into" the Reliability of Roadside Testing as Proving Impairment, which is 100% Bogus
Judges have "bought into" the claimed reliability of these field evaluations as "tests," believing, it would seem, that if the government promulgated and endorsed use of these evaluations, they must be "valuable" tools in the effort to deter DUI-DWI offenses. The proof of how much the courts have bought the "hook, line and sinker" is the horrifying fact that more than 5200 reported appellate opinions indicate that the words "fail" or "failed" AND "test" AND "field" show up in the same sentence.
The Creator of the SFTS three test battery, Dr. Marcelline Burns has publicly refuted any claims that field tests are correlated to "impairment"
These evaluations were NEVER correlated to "impairment" levels, as has been stated in more than a dozen speeches by the principal creator of these field evaluations, Dr. Marcelline Burns, Ph.D. She stated this in speeches made in San Francisco, California in 2000, and at Chicago in August of 2001 (ABA Judges' Convention). Yet, court cases are allowed to be tried and convictions obtained on patently false evidence across America. Only recently have several courts across America called for extensive hearings to review these untouched claims of reliability and ultimately have declared that the "science" behind these evaluations is totally lacking. [Two nationally-significant cases have refuted the claimed reliability of field tests. United States v. Horn, 185 F.Supp.2d 530 (D.Md. 2002); State v. Lasworth, 131 N.M. 739, 42 P.2d 844 (2001)]
Additional resources provided by the author
United States v. Horn, 185 F.Supp.2d 530 (D.Md. 2002)
State v. Lasworth, 131 N.M. 739, 42 P.2d 844 (2001)
J.L. Booker, The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: Fraudulent Science in the American Courts, Science & Justice, Vol. 44, No. 3, p. 133-139 (2004)