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How do field sobriety tests assess a driver’s condition?

| Apr 6, 2021 | Drunk Driving |

If you have ever been driving only to look up and see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, you know the feeling of dread that comes when you see you’re being pulled over. After you pull to the side of the road, a Florida officer may come to your window to speak to you and explain why he or she stopped you. If there is a suspicion of drunk driving, the officer may ask you to submit to certain types of sobriety tests. 

Field sobriety tests assess a driver’s cognitive ability and physical state. Failure of a field sobriety test could indicate intoxication, and at that point, the law enforcement officer may request a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content. You may find it helpful to learn about the different field sobriety tests and exactly how they help an officer assess your condition during a suspected DUI traffic stop. 

Types of tests 

These tests evaluate a driver’s balance, concentration and coordination, three things generally affected when a person is under the influence of alcohol. The three tests used during a traffic stop include: 

  • One-leg stand test – This test requires you to stand and balance on one leg for approximately 30 seconds. You must be able to do this without putting the foot down, hopping, putting your arms out or swaying. 
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus – During this test, the driver will follow a moving object with his or her eyes. Jerking off the eyes or inability to focus will lead to failure of the test. 
  • Walk-and-turn test  In this test, the driver will walk nine steps in a straight line, turn and walk back. This test assesses balance, ability to follow instructions and coordination. 

When administered correctly, experts consider these standardized field sobriety tests very accurate. However, it is possible the actions of an officer, lack of training or other factors could impact the driver or the test, leading to inaccurate results 

Challenging results 

If you believe that the results of any field sobriety tests used against you are inaccurate, you have the right to challenge the prosecution’s casePart of a strong DUI defense is a careful evaluation of the evidence used against the defendant. With a thoughtfully and thoroughly prepared defense, it may be possible to avoid a conviction, protect your future interests or mitigate the potential penalties you are up against.