Field Sobriety Tests “Unreliable” for Older Drivers
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?