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New Jersey DWI Romberg Balancing Test

A knowledgeable New Jersey DWI lawyer will tell you that the use of the Romberg Test in law enforcement has been reviewed by many, particularly with regard to its reliability. The test requires its subjects to stand with their feet together and their arms down to their sides. Participants are to maintain that position while an officer provides them with further instructions. The subjects are then asked to tilt their heads back a little and close their eyes. Once everyone was in the required position, they are to remain that way with their eyes shut for 30 seconds. After the appropriate amount of time goes by, participants then bring their heads up, open their eyes, and tell the officer to “stop.”

The officer will then ask the participants to confirm how much time has actually passed. Once that time had been denoted, the statistics with respect to the precision of the time estimation, the amount of eye flutter and the amount of sway displayed is gathered.

Of the test studies that have been done, it was noted that all participants estimated the passage of 30 seconds within +/- 23 seconds. However, only 4.8% of the people estimated 30 seconds at exactly 30 seconds. Further, only 28.9% of those tested had no eyelid flutters, while over 71% displayed eyelid flutters. Also, 56.7% of participants swayed 1-2 inches, with approximately an equal allocation of the remaining percentage shared between those who swayed more than 2-4 inches and those who swayed less than one inch.

Nonetheless, any New Jersey DWI lawyer will tell you that this degree of variation is generally expected within the general population. Also, an increase in body sway can exist for a number of reasons, to include weight, age, and physical condition. Additional studies also appear to show that the Romberg test is undependable with regard to identifying individuals who have a 0.08% blood alcohol level. For example, in instances where drivers were in reality less than a 0.08%, four subjects were incorrectly arrested as having levels over 0.08%.