Other Tests Commonly Used

Non-Standardized Evaluations

There are also evaluations that are not standardized or approved through NHTSA and generally are only as effective as the officer is at conveying his/her interpretations to the jury.  However, these are done with increased frequency and often have an impact on how cases are evaluated.

A list of these evaluations and an explanation of how they work follow:

  • Alphabet Test
    • Officer instructs a suspect to say the alphabet from one letter to another (ex: from E to U)
    • Suspect is asked not to sing the letters
    • Officer notes whether letters are transposed, omitted, or sung.
    • Suggests that an individual can’t do a basic fundamental task due to impairment
  • Rhomberg Evaluation
    • Officer asks a suspect to put their hands to their side, tilt their head back, close their eyes, estimate the passage of 30 seconds, and once 30 seconds has passed, tilt their head forward and open their eyes.
    • Officer is watching the subjects gait and getting a gauge on their internal clock.
    • If there is a noticeable sway or tremors, this might suggest impairment
    • A fast internal clock (estimates 30 seconds in 15 seconds time) could suggest the use of a stimulant while a slow internal clock could suggest a depressant.
  • Finger to Nose
    • Subject asked to tilt head back and extend arms out to their side and bend their arms to touch their fingertip to their nose.
    • Measures major and fine motor skills
  • Finger Tip Touch
    • Subject is asked to touch their thumb to their first, second, third and fourth finger in sequence, and then in reverse order.  They are asked to count out loud and not to stop until told to do so.
    • Measures fine motor skills and simple counting
  • Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)
    • A breath testing device that is utilized on the side of the road.  Although an officer sees a BrAC number, the only thing that is admissible in court is testimony of “positive” or “negative” for alcohol.

Again, none of these evaluations are certified through NHTSA; however, they are commonly used.  With the right defense, they can be easily discredited.