Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 293–313 | Cite as

The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: A Review of Scientific and Legal Issues

Original Article

Abstract

This article details the history and development of the National Highway and Safety Administration’s Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. They are reviewed in terms of relevant scientific, psychometric, and legal issues. It is concluded that the research that supports their use is limited, important confounding variables have not been thoroughly studied, reliability is mediocre, and that their developers and prosecution-oriented publications have oversold the tests. Further, case law since their development has severed the tests from their validation data, so that they are not admissible on the criterion for which they were validated (blood alcohol concentration), and admissible for a criterion for which they were not (mental, physical, or driving impairment). Directions for further research are presented.

Keywords

Driving while intoxicated Sobriety test Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus HGN Walk and Turn One Leg Stand  Driving safety 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank H. Anthony Semone, H. D. Kirkpatrick, Jorey Krawczyn, Robert McIntyre, Joel Wiesen, J. Ray Hays, and Troy McKinney who provided their support and feedback on this article.

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© American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association 2007 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HoustonUSA

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