Romberg balancing test

Romberg balancing test

You might have heard of the “walk-and-turn” and other standardized field sobriety tests, but police officers also sometimes utilize the “Romberg balancing test” to determine a person’s sobriety. Developed in 1853 as a balance assessment examination for disease diagnosis in Germany, ear specialist Moritz Heinrich Romberg’s tool is now widely used by officers in addition to their typical testing procedures. An experienced Orange County DUI lawyer can help you understand the protocol involved in such testing and how officers use results to make their case.

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Creating a baseline for testing

Originally designed to help diagnose diseases, the Romberg test is still used today to detect neurological dysfunction and inner ear problems. Outside the clinical setting, the test was changed to fit the needs of law enforcement.

While a “baseline” is usually established for persons undergoing the Romberg test, law enforcement officers will not ask you to perform the test with your eyes open first, as you might see in a clinical setting. Despite the importance of establishing a baseline, this is simply not possible when an officer encounters someone who is already inebriated. Instead, your performance will be compared to the normal range of performance. Your Orange County DUI lawyer can help you evaluate your own performance.

Performing the test

In a law enforcement setting, the Romberg test requires a subject to stand in one place with their feet together, their hands at their sides, with head tilted back and both eyes closed. Other variations, such as the “modified position of attention” or the “sharpened” Romberg, require subjects to use other positioning; this can consist of holding the arms out from the body, placing the feet in a different position, or waiting 30 seconds before attempting to touch one’s nose with one’s finger.

In any case, an officer will observe the subject for signs of movement or “degree of sway.” If the subject sways, the “degree of sway” can be used to determine a problem. For law enforcement, this will help determine the level of intoxication. Clinicians will use the degree of sway or complete loss of balance to study and diagnose a patient’s age, drug issues, degree of fatigue, stress-related issues, injuries, or illness.

If you have been cited for a DUI, consider speaking with knowledgeable Orange County DUI lawyers Coffey & Coffey. You can reach them at (800) 706-7888 to discuss your case and schedule an appointment.