The Rhomberg balance test is a tool used by police officers who suspect a driver of DUI / DWI or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID). Unlike the tests we took in school, field sobriety tests such as the Rhomberg balance test are designed for failure. Usually, their sole purpose is to give the officer probable cause to make an arrest, and evidence to support a drunk driving court case. The best way to fight the results of a field sobriety test in a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge is to consult with a California drunk driving attorney experienced in fighting DUI cases.
Unlike other field sobriety evaluation tools, the Rhomberg balance test is not a standardized test recognized by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Because the NHTSA has not found the Rhomberg balance test to be an accurate indicator of mental and physical impairment, it holds less weight in court than a standardized test.
During a Rhomberg balance test, a driver is told to stand with his or her feet together, with head tilted back and eyes closed. The driver must estimate the passage of 30 seconds, then tilt the head forward, open his or her eyes, and say “stop”.
If the driver overestimates 30-second period by counting too slowly, the officer likely will conclude that the driver is under the influence of alcohol. If the driver underestimates the passage of 30 seconds by counting too quickly, the officer may conclude that the driver is under the influence of stimulants.
In addition to evaluating the driver’s skill at estimating the passage of 30 seconds, the officer also is evaluating the driver’s ability to follow instructions, and looking for swaying and muscle tightening or tremors. The officer also may note any statements made by the driver.
It’s easy to see why a driver is destined to fail the Rhomberg balance test – while the officer is looking at a wristwatch, the driver is standing next to a busy street or freeway with his or her eyes shut, enduring 30 seconds of hell.
Although police and prosecutors like to think that the results of the Rhomberg balance test and other field sobriety tests as sure indicators of the mental and physical impairment associated with drunk driving, that’s just not the case. The best way to challenge the results of field sobriety tests and fight a drinking and driving case is to consult with an experienced DUI / DWI criminal defense attorney.