One of the main purposes for the Modified Romberg Balance test is to test a person’s ability to estimate time (30 seconds). The scoring criterion for the MRB is 30 seconds, +/- 5 seconds.
What is sometimes overlooked by the instructor during the ARIDE training course is an instructor note in the instructor manual regarding the scoring criterion for the MRB. Remember, an instructor note is language that is in the instructor manual but not in the student manual and requires the instructor to verbally pass the information on to the students during the lecture. According to an instructor note in the NHTSA ARIDE instructor manual, “The use of the MRB Test time estimation to predict or relate to certain drug categories is not supported by research at this time” (2018 revision, session 5, page 19).
That is right, you just read what you thought you read. Although ARIDE officers are trained to test a person’s ability to estimate 30 seconds, there is nothing ARIDE officers can do with the results as it relates to a specific drug category. But since we know ARIDE officers are not allowed to give an opinion on a specific drug category anyways, is this language even relevant? In my opinion, it is! It is relevant when you are dealing with a DRE officer in a DRE case. 1) the DRE training curriculum does not mention this language that is referenced in the ARIDE curriculum, 2) DREs are required to attend ARIDE training prior to attending DRE training so every DRE should be familiar with this language in the ARIDE curriculum, and 3) DREs are required to give their opinion on a specific drug category and will use the results of the MRB to help support their opinion.
So, the next time you are required to deal with a DRE at a motion hearing or at a trial and you know the DRE will be relying on the results of the Modified Romberg Balance test as one of the tests to help support their opinion, I suggest reminding the DRE what they learned in ARIDE training regarding the MRB and no research.