Field Sobriety Tests “Unreliable” for Older Drivers

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on June 5th, 2013

In just another example of law enforcement's one-size-fits-all approach to drunk driving cases, Dr. Lance L. Gooberman, M.D., offers the following comments:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, based upon studies done in 1977 and 1983, determined that standardized field sobriety tests were unreliable in those over age 60. This is reflected in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration manual from 1991. In 2006 it was changed to age 65, however, this was not based upon any additional data.

A recent British study indicates that the breakpoint for reliability on field sobriety tests is the age of 40.   Dixon, Clark and Tiplady, Evaluation of a Road Side Impairment Test Device Using Alcohol, 41 Accident Analysis and Prevention, 412-418 (2009). This is more consistent from a medical perspective. Therefore, field sobriety tests cannot be relied upon in people greater than 40 years of age.

For further examples of the "one-size-fits-all" road to conviction, particularly with blood and breath alcohol analysis, see my earlier post Guilty…of Not Being Average?  

  • Art

    The typical American is either overweight, or otherwise out of shape, or too old, or wearing the wrong shoes, or this or that, to the point that even sober, the FST can’t be carried out. Try to stand on one foot, for an example, and close your eyes- you’ll probably last a few seconds, at best.

    But until Americans wake up, and realize that their own calls to ‘arrest’ more people for more victimless so called crimes, nothing will change other than the continued eroison of our rights.

    I wonder how many parents yell and scream for more DUI penalties, even while they themselves drink and drive with their children in the vehicle- which in several states is a de facto felony, as long as any trace alcohol registers on the breathalyzer?

    I rest me case.