The Rhomberg Balance DUI Field Sobriety Test

By Garth O'Brien | December 18, 2009 
Filed Under Washington DUI

During a DUI investigation the police officer inevitably inquires whether or not the DUI suspect will voluntarily participate in some field sobriety tests. In the State of Washington the DUI suspect has a right to refuse the field sobriety tests. There are no consequences in refusing the field sobriety tests. These drunk tests merely produce evidence the police will use to support an arrest for DUI. An experienced Seattle DUI attorney will advise a DUI suspect to refuse participation no matter how much you have consumed that night.

One of the field sobriety tests police officers might use is the Rhomberg Balance Test. This is not one of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The police officer will initially request the DUI suspect not to start the test until told to “begin.” Then the DUI suspect is instructed to stand with their feet together, and arms at their sides. During the Rhomberg Balance test, the DUI suspect must tilt their head back and close their eyes. When the police officer says, “begin” the suspect must estimate the passage of 30 seconds. When the DUI suspect believes 30 seconds has past, they must stop tilting their head, open their eyes and state that they are finished.

During the Rhomberg Balance Test the police officer is looking for eye tremors, any body swaying, using the arms for balance, and if the DUI suspect finishes before 30 seconds or finished after 30 seconds.

In seven years as a prosecutor and as a DUI defense attorney I read only one police report where the DUI suspect estimated the passage of 30 seconds correctly. I have reviewed police reports in which the investigating police officer concluded the DUI suspect was NOT under the influence of intoxicants, yet the DUI suspect still failed to correctly estimate the passage of 30 seconds.

However, law enforcement must protect the community and arrest drivers that are under the influence of intoxicants. They do not have the luxury of a long and detailed investigation. Field sobriety tests are the tools they must rely upon for now when deciding to make a DUI arrest.

If you have been arrested for a Washington State DUI then you must contact an experienced Washington DUI attorney to protect your legal rights and avoid mandatory DUI penalties.

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