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Counting backwards isn't a standard field sobriety test

There are many different ways that police officers can try to determine if a driver is intoxicated. Anyone who is being evaluated should know that only some of the methods are admissible in court.

When it comes to field sobriety tests, there are three tests that are part of the standardized field sobriety test battery. These include the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests. Any other test isn't standardized and likely won't be admissible in court.

One test that some officers use is having the person count backwards starting at a certain number. Some officers start at 10, but others might start at 100, 1,000 or any other number. The theory here is that a person who is intoxicated won't be able to focus to count backwards.

Not being able to follow directions, function normally or focus are all signs of impairment that officers look for with this test. Some people who are intoxicated might start the test too early or on the wrong number. Some might stop counting before they reach the target number. Others just won't know what to do.

Of course, the results of this test might still lead to an officer arresting you. This could be done to get the process started for obtaining a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test to determine what your actual BAC percentage is.

When a non-standardized test is used in your drunk driving stop, you might be able to use that information as part of your defense. Make sure that you consider this, and every other possible defense, when you are planning the strategy.

Source: FieldSobrietyTests.org, "Numbers Backward Test," accessed Sept. 1, 2017

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