Purpose & Typical Field Sobriety Test Scenario
Interviewer: What is the purpose of a standardized field sobriety test?
Adam Hunt: The purpose is to determine if there is troubled caused and make an arrest or to administer a field Breathalyzer if the police officer has some type of suspicion that the person might be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
Interviewer: Let’s get a visual scenario here. At what point is it administered? What happens? What’s the situation look like?
Adam Hunt: Typically when it’s related to alcohol, the police officer will notice an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. That initial determination of alcohol coming from the vehicle isn’t sufficient for them, so that’s why they have them step out of the vehicle. Then if they get any kind of indication that the alcohol is emanating from the person, they’ll proceed with the various tests in order to determine if their initial suspicion is correct – that being that this person may be under the influence.
Interviewer: Do you think there’s miscommunication on the part by the police officer and do you think by the person who is subjected to perform these exercises? Do you think there’s misinterpretation on their end?
Adam Hunt: Oh, there definitely could be. A lot of times it’s a person that maybe just got off work. It’s late in the night or early in the morning. Maybe they worked the midnight shift. The time of day when bars close is typically around two o’clock. Then they could also just come across an OVI or a DUI checkpoint.
Interviewer: Now during this process, are individuals videoed?
Adam Hunt: It depends on the police department whether they have cameras in their car or not.
Interviewer: Now do you think that would help or hinder the case?
Adam Hunt: It depends on what transpired – whether the officer actually even had grounds to stop them because they can’t just randomly stop them, if there was a camera and the police officer is saying they went over a line, whether it’s the center line or another line or if they crossed a lane or whatever. That could help if they did not, and if they weren’t driving erratically. Predominantly, the stop would start usually from a traffic violation – whether it’s speeding, expired plates – unless, again, they’re going through some type of checkpoint.
Interviewer: What are some minor traffic infractions that a police officer can stop someone for?
Adam Hunt: It could be something as simple as a taillight out or someone forgetting to turn their lights on.
Interviewer: Let’s get some clarification on the whole concept of this. If someone messes up, how do they mess up? Is it like a point system or do they give them a chance? What are they looking at exactly?
Adam Hunt: Each section gives so many indicators depending on what the type of test is and how many times there were mistakes.
By: Adam Hunt