Standard Field Sobriety Tests are Admissible in DUI-Marijuana Case

Although there is no scientific agreement on whether the standard field sobriety tests used to detect drivers impaired by alcohol (the “horizontal gaze nystagmus test,” the “walk and turn test” and the “one leg stand test”) might indicate marijuana intoxication, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that a driver’s performance on these tests are admissible to “establish a driver’s balance, coordination, mental acuity, and other skills required to safely operate a motor vehicle.”

But the court also ruled that the officer conducting the tests will not be permitted to testify that a driver “passed” or “failed” the tests, or whether the driver’s performance on the tests indicated impairment. A police officer not qualified as an expert (i.e., a Drug Recognition Expert) cannot offer an opinion about whether a driver was under the influence of marijuana.

The full opinion may be found here. 11967