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Secret evidence
If you think Americans charged with crimes should be able to see the evidence against them, SFSTs disappoint. SFST accuracy evidence is secret. The government makes extravagant scientifically invalid claims about the accuracy of the SFST, but it has never published and now refuses to release the data on which those claims are supposedly based.

This sounds nutty. We have the scientific reports from NTHSA's own scientific SFST validation studies. They report the scientific accuracy of the scientific SFST. It's true they give summary statistics and not their raw data, but that's exactly what scientific papers generally do. We have as much scientific information about SFSTs as we do about any other scientific medical diagnostic test.

Unfortunately, it ain't so. SFST's are "validated" by the same bureaucracy that promotes them, sort of like abolishing the EPA and having coal companies validate strip mining. Over and over NHTSA's SFST "science" fails to meet the minimum standards of science.

Compare NHTSA standards with the standards of free and open science.


  • Studies arranged by NHTSA
  • Research contractors picked by NHTSA
  • Research contractors paid by NHTSA
  • No financial disclosure.
  • Research results published by NHTSA in-house, without outside peer review.
  • No review by an independent biostatistician. As far as I can tell, no review by any statistician.

In the USA governments convict people of DUI crimes using pseudo-medical "science" based on secret data that was not originally subject to outside peer review and cannot now be examined by the defendant—or anyone else.

Journal of the American Medical Association

"For industry-sponsored studies, an analysis of the data (based on the entire data set and evaluation of the study protocol, and prespecified plan for data analysis) must be conducted by an independent statistician at an academic institution, rather than by statisticians employed by the sponsor or by a commercial contract research organization. ....Details of this independent statistical analysis, the name and institutional affiliation of the independent statistician, and whether compensation or funding was received for conducting the analyses should be reported in the Acknowledgment section of the manuscript. The results of this independent statistical analysis should be the results reported in the manuscript."

Journal of the American Medical Association
Instructions For Authors, 2008
, pg 2-3;
also in JAMA, July 2, 2008-Vol 300, No. 1

The Journal of the American Medical Association refuses to print industry sponsored studies unless their entire data set has been analyzed by an identified, qualified statistician.
Searching for the evidence

The NHTSA's DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Student Manual cites and relies on several so called studies. (Study reports linked below)


Paid Contractor

Paid corporation


San Diego, 1998

Dr. Burns, Dr. Stuster

Anacapa Sciences

released by Dr. Stuster

Florida, 1997

Dr. Burns


Colorado, 1995

Dr. Burns



Dr. Burns, Dr. Moskowitz, Dr. Tharp



Dr. Burns, Dr. Moskowitz


The authors of these studies claim to have gathered data which they claim to analyze in a way they claim proves FSTs are "extremely accurate" at identifying BAC levels. Criminal defendants are unable to examine any of these claims because, with the exception of one study, the data on which they are supposedly based is kept secret.

I myself have tried to get copies of the government's data on FST "accuracy."

Anacapa Sciences contracted to do the 1998 San Diego FST validation study. Dr. Jack Stuster, principal scientist at Anacapa Sciences and an author of the study, quickly and cheerfully sent the relevant data set. This was the only FST study for which I have been able to get data.

What the data proved about FST inaccuracy is shocking.


All data

A FOIA request to the NHTSA failed to get any FST study data. So I called Washington, DC and spoke with the NHTSA's Chief Counsel's Office—the agency's self described "FOIA experts." Agency lawyers claim all the FST data was lost "when we moved to this new office." The data was also lost, "when we moved to a paperless office." This happened, "a few years ago"—some time after a similar FOIA request was honored, resulting in Dr. Hlastala's 2005 scientific article sharply critical of NHTSA's statistical methods.

Why do you think defendants are not allowed to see secret study data?

A close look at the Colorado SFST study suggests officers' FST testing amounted to vague unstandardized intuitions like "Poor"—with no HGN test done.
What does "poor" mean? How did "poor" impact officer's decisions? The study doesn't say.

The data from this key study is secret. The study is used to convict defendants, but defendants can't see the basic government data the conclusions are supposedly based on. Defendants can't test whether police in this study.even did recognizable FSTs.

All data

Southern California Research Institute, as I read validation reports, contracted with the NHTSA to do the Florida, Colorado, 1981, and 1977 studies. SCRI data seems to be secret. SCRI's executive director, Dr. Dary Fiorentino, answered my emails, but refused to release any data. At least I think he did—I was never able to decode his responses to tell whether the data has been lost, or destroyed, or whether it still exists but is secret.

SCRI's executive director even refused to release the "case log" appendix originally included in the Florida study's official final report (a study he worked on), although again his apparent evasiveness left me unsure if the official report SCRI was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to prepare has been lost, destroyed, or is secret.

Why do you think defendants are not allowed to see secret study data?
In the Florida validation study, on innocent people officers ignored a failed WAT test 57% of the time.

"Thirty-three drivers who were correctly released (mean BAC 0.033%) had been given the WAT test. If the decisions had been based solely on WAT, only ten of those drivers would have been released."
Florida Validation Study, pg 18

Dr. Marcy Burns

All data

Dr. Marcy Burns, principal author of the San Diego, Colorado, Florida, 1981, 1977 studies, refused to release any data. The only response I've yet gotten from her is the green USPS certified mail receipt she signed when my request was delivered

If you have copies of the government's secret data sets for any of these studies, please let me know.  FST (at) medmalexperts.com