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New Jersey DWI Romberg Balancing Testing

In 1853, Moritz Heinrich Romberg developed a test to make a diagnosis of diseases through the use of a balance assessment. Today, the Romberg test is utilized by clinicians as a non-specific test of neurological or inner ear dysfunction. These clinical tests have since been customized to be used by police officers when performing field sobriety tests. While it is not one of the standardized field sobriety tests, the Romberg test is broadly used by police departments to gauge whether a person was driving under the influence.

The standard Romberg test requires people to stand upright with their feet placed together, hands to their sides, and their head tilted back with their eyes closed. From this, several variations were born, to include standing heel-to-toe with the head back or standing in the standard position while engaging in the finger-to-nose test.

From a clinical point of view, a positive Romberg test actually means that there is a loss of balance. Also, in a clinical setting, the test is typically performed with the eyes open initially in order to create a performance baseline. However, in the world of law enforcement, the amount of sway that exists in a subject is considered to be in direct correlation with alcohol impairment without the establishment of a baseline. A knowledgeable New Jersey DWI lawyer can further advise you regarding the applicability of the test to your particular case.

However, the trustworthiness of the Romberg test essentially depends on whether or not a nexus exists between ordinary performance and alcohol-induced performance. The measurement of a typical baseline performance for the test participant is key to determining whether there is a deviation from normal performance and whether any change can be attributed to alcohol ingestion.

Because determining baseline performance is next to impossible in a law enforcement situation, having data that is in the normal range of performance for the general population is of utmost importance. Yet, it is a known fact that balance tests of all kinds tend to show large individual differences in the performance of sober persons.