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DUI--The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Validation Myth
By Steve Oberman, Sara Compher-Rice
Since standardizing the field sobriety tests (SFSTs) used by police officers to assess the level of intoxication of suspected drunk drivers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been determined to establish some kind of scientific validity for the SFSTs as an accurate indicator of a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Approximately 18 years after the original publication of the SFST research in 1977,1 NHTSA supported three studies that were conducted and analyzed with the apparent objective of getting the results of the studies to validate the accuracy of the SFSTs.2 These studies were conducted in Colorado in 1995, San Diego in 1996, and Florida in 1997.3 In these materials, the authors will review these validation studies and discuss how the validity of these “scientific” studies may have been compromised because these studies were designed to produce a desired outcome. It is important to note at the outset that neither the original NHTSA studies, no
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