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The Champion

June 2003 , Page 40 

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The psychometrics and science of the standardized field sobriety tests (Part 2)

By Steve Rubenzer

Standardization problems – As the name implies, the SFSTs gain their special status because they have been standardized, meaning specific rules for administering, scoring, and interpretation have been specified and researched.  

Standardization is crucial if research findings are used to support the validity of the tests, since a test that is modified is no longer the same test. As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) states, “If any one of the standardized field sobriety test elements is changed, the validity is compromised.”1 A number of courts have held that if not properly administered, the SFSTs are not admissible.2 

The following problem areas are organized in the chronological order that the SFSTs are administered and scored.  

1. Screening questions for possible medical problems and conditions should be standardized and validated.  

The NHTSA Student Manual states the officer should ask about certain topics, but does not specify the form of

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