For quite some time, the nature of roadside sobriety tests have been in question. Many arguments exist to point out the inaccuracies in testing, and the violations the tests provide to people with certain impairments. People and groups protesting the implementation of sobriety tests continue to make their voices heard to this day.
One of the most common arguments that is portrayed against Field Sobriety Tests is that of their inaccuracy. The argument is that not everyone can perform the tasks that these tests, both standardized and non-standardized require. This argument has great strength for people suffering from certain medical, psychological, and physical conditions. For example, a person with multiple sclerosis would not be able to complete most if not all of the tasks that are involved in such testing.
A person with a surgically repaired leg, knee, hip, etc.. would not be able to meet the physical demand of most of the standardized tests, and would fail upon trying. If any of these people are made to take the test, and they fail, they are subject to being arrested even if they were sober. That’s where the tests draw the most criticism from. The argument from the opposition comes to these people for not declaring their inability to perform a test to the officer prior to doing so.
This is where the test draws the most anger from its protesters, because of it’s proximity to perhaps violating some civil human rights. The people that are unable to perform the test usually try to notify an officer, and one of two things can happen. If the officer is aggressive because of his belief of the person being drunk, he will tell them they are refusing to take the test and arrest them.
The other thing that could happen, is that the officer believes the person and verifies it by administering a breathalyzer test on the spot (if available), or at the police station, prior to arresting that individual. There is no telling in the direction the events can go if the person is unable to take part in them, every case is different, and every officer is different. Now it’s up to the officer to determine whether or not the person may be incapable of taking part in the Field Sobriety Tests and choosing whether they will corroborate their story via breathalyzer prior to an arrest, but there are certain cases where it’s tougher.
For example if the person has some sort of psychological condition that isn’t visible to the officer, it becomes harder for them to judge. This is where the officer has very little choice, and most of the time will turn to the use of a breathalyzer, again depending on the officer and situation. A person with a psychological condition can portray signs of being drunk when not, so the officer may believe them to be lying about their condition and arresting them regardless with cause.
As one can see, it is tough to make a determination whether these tests that help to defend or incriminate an individual, are “just”. This creates much room for debate, especially when Non-Standardized Tests are given which don’t follow a uniform line of testing. The validity and nature of these tests will continue to be challenged, as well as the violations they may impose.