Proper Administration of the Romberg Balancing Test

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Sacramento, the arresting officer may have used the Romberg test when trying to determine how intoxicated you were. The Romberg test is rather unique among field sobriety tests: it was originally developed in the 19th century as a means to diagnose diseases affecting the inner ear. Today, it is one of the most widespread field sobriety tests used in DUI arrests.

The basic procedure in the Romberg test appears quite simple: the subject stands with his feet together and with his hands at his side. The subject is then instructed to close his eyes and tilt his head back.

The procedure is not standardized, and as a result, there are many variations currently being used by officers. Some officers ask the subjects to stand with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, instead of with their feet side by side. Some officers ask the subjects to hold their arms straight out instead of letting them hang at their sides. Other officers will change the amount of time the subject is asks to stands or will even try and combine the Romberg test with other field sobriety tests.

However, the accuracy of the test is heavily dependent on the arresting officer properly establishing of a baseline for his variation of the test. Without knowing how a subject would have performed on the test while sober, it cannot be determined with any degree of certainty how much of the subject’s performance of the test was due to alcohol impairment.

Since this data is practically impossible to collect when actually making a DUI arrest, law enforcement officers must make an educated guess as to the subject’s level of impairment by looking at data on how normal people usually perform on the test. However, the variation in procedure presents a real problem when trying to determine the accuracy of any given test. In addition, certain illnesses, as well as age and stress, can also affect test results.

Experienced Sacramento DUI attorneys know this and can use this uncertainty to defend you from DUI charges. Call today for a free initial consultation with DUI attorney Param Pabla.

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