Banner Graphic: Developmnt of a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) Training Management System

Executive Summary

This report presents the results of a study conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop a model system to help law enforcement agencies manage Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) training requirements. A further objective is to explore the feasibility of establishing and operating a statewide SFST training-records system.

Beginning in 1975, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sponsored research that led to the development of standardized methods for law enforcement officers to use when evaluating motorists who are suspected of Driving While Impaired (DWI). Since 1981, law enforcement officers have used NHTSA’s Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) battery to help determine whether motorists who are suspected of DWI have blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) greater than 0.10 percent; the SFST battery was further validated for use at the 0.08 BAC level in 1998. NHTSA's SFSTs largely have replaced the unvalidated performance tests of unknown merit that once were the officer's only tools in helping to make post-stop DWI arrest decisions. NHTSA's SFSTs presently are used in all 50 states and have become the standard pre-arrest procedures for evaluating DWI in most law enforcement agencies.

Colorado is the first state to require periodic refresher training for SFST practitioners and instructors. Interviews were conducted with representatives from a sample of Colorado law enforcement agencies to learn how officers and supervisors determine who requires refresher training, and when it is required, to maintain certification. The data elements and design features of a model, computer-based SFST training-records management system were identified based on a review of current methods and procedures. The specifications of the model system are described.