Introduction When a law enforcement officer (LEO) stops a suspect believed to be operating (a vehicle) while impaired (OWI), the suspect may resist or flee, and the LEO may respond with force. The suspect may then undergo a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) to gauge impairment. It is not known whether resistance, fleeing, or actions of force can create an inaccurate SFST result. We examined the effect of resistance, fleeing, and force on the SFST. Materials and Methods Human volunteers were prospectively randomized to have a SFST before and after one of five scenarios: (1) five-second conducted electrical weapon exposure; (2) 100-yard (91.4 m) sprint; (3) 45-second physical fight; (4) police dog bite with protective gear; and (5) Oleoresin Capsicum spray to the face with eyes shielded. The SFST was administered and graded by a qualified LEO. After the SFST, the volunteer entered their scenario and was then administered another SFST. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. SFST performance was compared before and after using chi-square tests. Results Fifty-seven subjects enrolled. Three received a single-point penalty during one component of the three-component SFST pre-scenario. No subject received a penalty point in any components of the SFST post-scenario (p = 0.08). Conclusions This is the first human study to examine the effects of physical resistance, flight, and use of force on the SFST result. We did not detect a difference in the performance of subjects taking the SFST before and after exposure to resistance, flight, or a simulated use of force.
- Standardized Field Sobriety Test
- use of force