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By J. Gary Trichter,W. Troy McKinney
Neutralizing the Romberg
In the national police arsenal of divided attention field sobriety
tests, the Police Romberg Balance Test (also called the “head tilt”) is
often touted by law enforcement as an accurate and reliable indicator to
determine if a suspected driver is intoxicated. Indeed, the Police
Romberg Test is the first of four tests required to be used by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s certified drug
recognition experts. It is often mistaken for a medical test simply
called “the Romberg.”
The administration of the Police Romberg Test calls for the investigating officer to give the following instructions:
Put your feet together;
Keep your arms by your sides;
Tilt your head slightly back;
Close your eyes; and
Silently estimate 30.
No instruction is given to refrain from moving or swaying. Observing the
suspect’s performance, the officer allegedly passes or fails a person
based on the amount of sway and the estimation of time. Not
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