Introducton to Field Sobriety Testing

Field sobriety tests are any one of several roadside tests that can be used to determine whether a suspect is impaired.  These psychophysical tests are performed on DUI suspects to assist an officer in the decision to make an arrest.  In theory, these tests directly assess impairment by focusing precisely on the human capabilities needed for safe driving. 

The procedures for conducting field sobriety tests are put forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  NHTSA is a federal agency charged with reducing deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes.  They also attempt to fight drunk driving.  The are responsible for the field sobriety testing guidelines.  They base their procedures on scientific studies.  However, NHTSA does not conduct their own studies.  Rather, the studies are done by those who write grant proposals and are given monetary compensation.  Moreover, none of the studies  supporting the NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Manual are "peer reviewed."  This is the process of subjecting an author's scholarly work, research or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field.