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The purpose of field sobriety tests

Like most people in New York, you are likely aware that a driver who police suspect might be intoxicated could be asked to perform a few actions before being arrested. Some of these tests are called field sobriety tests as they are generally administered in the field at the location where officers first pulled the driver over. However, unlike what many people may think, these tests do not and can in no way prove that a driver is drunk.

As explained by, there are three tests approved for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each of the three field sobriety tests must be executed according to very specific instructions as provided by the NHTSA in order to be deemed valid. Because these tests have no objective measurement they are not able to conclusively prove that a person is drunk.

Instead, field sobriety tests are used by law enforcement to give them enough support to place a driver under arrest by indicating that the defendant might possibly be drunk. In this way, these tests are akin to providing probable cause for an arrest. Only objective chemical tests uch as those that rely on blood, urine or breath samples can actually be used to determine a driver's level of actual intoxication.

If you would like to learn more about the various tests used during a suspected drunk driving investigation, please feel free to visit the field sobriety test page of our New York drunk driving and criminal defense website.

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