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Evaluation of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Training in North Carolina

NCJ Number
Police Studies Volume: 19 Issue: 4 Dated: (1996) Pages: 15-23
V B Lord
Date Published
9 pages
This study assessed the effectiveness of standardized field sobriety tests (SFST's) in North Carolina by comparing differences in the following variables before and after police training in SFST procedures: police officer driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrest rates, police officer DWI conviction rates, and driver blood alcohol concentration levels.
Other study variables included police officer confidence levels in identifying DWI drivers, the preparation of complete and accurate reports about DWI drivers, and the ability to testify clearly and convincingly in court. Four North Carolina police departments were asked to participate in the study because of their focus on DWI arrests. Subjects in the experimental group received SFST training, while subjects in the control group did not receive such training. Results suggested that police officers trained in SFST procedures were more confident in their ability to detect DWI offenders, wrote more complete and accurate reports, and testified in court more clearly and convincingly than police officers not trained in SFST procedures. In addition, evidence indicated that the increased abilities of police officers trained in SFST procedures correlated with an increase in DWI arrests. Additional research is recommended before police departments can rely on SFST training to increase DWI arrests and to decrease alcohol-related collisions. 5 references and 3 tables