How Officers Administer Field Sobriety Tests in Salisbury, MD
Field sobriety tests have to be administered in a very specific way because these tests are not considered to be valid or helpful unless they are done in a standardized fashion. So, police officers are actually trained on how to perform these tests and how to instruct individuals to take these tests. And they are instructed as to what they should be looking for and taking note of when they are observing the driver take the test.
If they are given in a standardized fashion, then typically that means that the court can draw certain inferences about the level of intoxication of the driver. It is not unusual, however, for police officers to add some other tests after conducting the standardized field sobriety tests.
They may ask a driver to count backwards from a particular number to another particular number. They may ask a driver to recite the alphabet beginning with a letter somewhere towards the middle of the alphabet and ending at a letter somewhere towards the end. This test is not asking the driver to recite the whole alphabet but asking the driver to be able to think and state a portion of the alphabet doing it accurately and also starting and stopping at the letters that were instructed.
Field sobriety tests do need to be administered in a certain way but it also is not unusual for in addition to those standardized field sobriety tests for the driver to be asked to conduct some other non-standardized tests.
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In order for the test to be considered standardized and valid, they have to be given in the same order. And all three have to be given. The standardized field sobriety tests include in this order: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn and the one leg stand.
The law enforcement officers in Salisbury will ask the driver to perform those three standardized field sobriety tests. And all of them have been trained to go through the tests in that specific order. There are certain agencies, typically the Maryland State Police, that train their troopers to also use some non-standardized tests at the end, but tests that are still considered to be relevant. And that’s the counting test and the alphabet test.
Most police officers in Salisbury are very familiar with these tests and how these tests should be administered. Other officers that don’t handle as many DUI cases, those are the situations where you see a police officer that does not understand how they are to be administered, doesn’t do them in the right order or does something else and makes the mistake in utilizing the field sobriety tests.
But generally, most law enforcement officers in Salisbury utilize the standardized field sobriety tests and then will also add some additional tests to look at the defendant’s coordination.