Once a person is suspected of DUI (driving under the influence), the police officer will ask that the person perform a variety of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). Field Sobriety Tests are considered voluntary in the state of Florida, which means that the person may or may not choose to consent to them. These tests are administered by law enforcement to gauge the suspects level of intoxication and also to establish probable cause for arrest. Because FSTs are not an exact science there are many challenges that can be made to their reliability. Oftentimes there are videotapes from the dashcam of the officer’s car. These videos are provided to us from the State Attorney through the discovery process.
Florida Field Sobriety Tests
In Florida, there are three standardized field sobriety tests. These tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand. The standardized field sobriety tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is also responsible for providing training for the law enforcement officers who administer the tests.
It is important to remember that field sobriety tests can be inaccurate. Many things can cause a person to fail a FST aside from being under the influence such as: poor coordination, poor weather conditions, inadequate lighting, or poor instruction from the officer.
When law enforcement administers the FSTs, they will take note of how well the suspect performs the tests and responds to direction.
1.The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Horizontal gaze nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of a persons eyeball. If a person is under the influence of alcohol, it is believed that he/she will have a difficult time following an object with his/her eyes. When the officer administers the nystagmus test, he/she will ask the suspect to follow the tip of a pen or a finger while he/she moves the object back and forth. If the suspect cant follow the object, or if the officer notices that the suspects eyes are involuntarily jerking, the officer may have reason to believe the suspect is intoxicated.
2.The Walk and Turn
The walk and turn is considered a divided attention test. During the walk and turn test, the suspect will be instructed to take 9 heel-to-toe steps, stop, turn, and then take 9 more heel-to-toe steps in the opposite direction. While the suspect performs this test, the officer will watch to see if the suspect follows instructions and remains balanced.
3.The One-Leg Stand
The one-leg stand is another divided attention test. During the one-leg stand test, the person will be instructed to stand on one foot while raising the other foot approximately 6 inches off of the ground. The person will then be asked to count out loud until instructed to stop. While the suspect performs this test, the officer will watch to see if the suspect puts his/her foot down before instructed, struggles with balance, or hops to maintain balance.
Sarasota, Tampa, Clearwater, Polk, and Charlotte Florida DUI Attorneys
If you have been charged with DUI, one of the best things you can do is seek the counsel of a qualified DUI attorney. At the Law Offices of Finebloom & Haenel, P.A., we have represented numerous clients charged with DUI in Florida. Our skilled attorneys will get involved from the very beginning to ensure that your rights are not violated. We will guide you through the legal process, represent you in and out of court, and do everything possible to make this complicated time much easier for you and to save your license.