Sobriety Testing: The Basic Scientific and Medical References that Demonstrate Standardized Field Sobriety Testing is Practicing Medicine Without a License
Over the last quarter century I have interviewed hundreds of patients who have been administered Field Sobriety Testing. My patients are routinely people who have failed to be helped by many other physicians. But even if Field Sobriety Testing was done purely by physicians, we do not have enough doctors to perform them. Lawyers, highway agencies, law enforcement and legislatures simply have no idea of the training of the veteran professional doctor in medical science. All average physicians know a medical vocabulary in excess of 200,000 words and thousands of medical concepts.
About six years ago I started doing a simple Field Sobriety Testing (FST) on all of my patients and most of the healthy relatives and friends who brought them to my office. I only administered the three tests felt to be credible, "valid" and "standardized." These nationally administered FST are the heel to toe test, the one leg raise and the horizontal nystagmus eye test. What stunned me is that even with a simplified version of these tests, over 90% of those tested in my office clearly failed. None of these had been drinking or failed a high level drug screen. Many of these people drive well and do not have any moving violations. So my first point is that FST does not measure the ability to drive. It measures over a hundred capacities that are profoundly beyond the human physiology knowledge of even smart FBI and CIA agents who are not dummies. So the physiology and pathological medicine that alters FST is fully in excess of any 40 hour training couse of sheriffs, police and state troopers—even with a cheat sheet reminder form.
The FST really is a measure of many biological processes, including your lower body coordination and that is why very sick skaters and ballet dancers can do these tests without any effort, and people with no lower body coordination fail when they are stone cold sober and off illicit drugs.
Next, what types of tests are these FST's? Are they law knowledge tests? Are they safe driving principles tests? No, they are medical tests. The variables that can impact each of the these tests are in excess of 500 medical items. Few doctors know all these variables, but a physician knows how to think medically after twenty years of body science, medicine, pathology and after performing over 20,000 full medical exams.
Having watched tapes of FST being administered by police, sheriffs or state troopers, it is obvious they have no idea what they are doing medically, and do not know how to do these highly detailed tests precisely. If they are not administered perfectly, they are worthless, according to some agencies that promote them.
Many FST "education" materials are meant to convince the law enforcement or a paramilitary officer that they are competent to do these medical exams. Sheriffs, police and state troopers are high school or college graduates with no medical training, and they are not qualified to perform medical exams that are undermined by over 500 variables.
The organizations promoting these tests do not realize the heel to toe test has over twenty five parts. Why do law enforcement workers not understand this complexity? It is simple. They know absolutely nothing about cognitive neurology. And as a highly rated physician who loves cognitive neurology, I have still needed to study approximately a thousand types of pathology that undermine the use of these tests. Enclosed in this book is a sample of basic citations that should be read before one has an introductory understanding of the medicine involved in performing FST. I doubt any law enforcement officer in the USA has read 2% of these basic articles.
Simply, law enforcement officers need to be told to stop practicing highly specialized medicine. They are not medical doctors.