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Field Sobriety Tests in Florida

In Florida, when a police officer pulls you over under the suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the officer may ask you to take a field sobriety test. To learn about the three standardized field sobriety tests used in Florida and whether you can refuse to take such tests, read on below. After all, when it comes to your legal rights, knowledge is power.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests Used in Florida

Florida law enforcement agencies use three standardized field sobriety tests which include: (1) the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, (2) the “One Leg Stand” Test, and (3) the “Walk and Turn” Test. Typically, a field sobriety test will be followed by a breathalyzer test. 

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The police officer observes the suspect’s eyes as the suspect follows a slowly moving object such as a small flashlight. The officer will be looking for the following signs of impairment: the suspect cannot smoothly follow the moving object with his eyes, the presence of nystagmus (involuntary jerking of the eye) when the suspect has moved his eyes as far to the left or right as possible; involuntary jerking of the suspect’s eyes before his eyes have moved 45 degrees to the right or left.
  • The “One Leg Stand Test”: First, the officer gives the suspect instructions while the suspect is standing with his feet together and arms at his sides. Then, the suspect must raise one foot approximately six inches off the ground while keeping his raised foot parallel with the ground. While looking at his raised foot, the suspect must count until the officer tells him to stop. The officer will be looking for the following signs of impairment: the suspect sways while balancing on one foot, uses arms to balance, hops while trying to balance, and puts raised foot down before instructed to do so. 
  • The “Walk and Turn” Test: First, the police officer gives the suspect instructions while the suspect is standing heel-to-toe with his arms at his side. Then, the officer will instruct the suspect to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line and then turn around on one foot and walk in the same manner in the opposite direction. The police officer will be observing the suspect for seven indicators of impairment: if the suspect cannot stay balanced while listening the officer’s instructions, begins walking before the instructions are finished, stops while walking to regain balance, uses arms to balance while walking, does not take heel-to-toe steps while walking, loses balance while turning, or takes the wrong number of steps.

Refusing a Field Sobriety Test in Florida

 In Florida, you have the right to refuse to take any field sobriety test. Unlike refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test to measure your blood alcohol content, refusing a field sobriety test will not result in the suspension of your driver’s license. The only consequence of refusing to take a field sobriety test is that your refusal can be disclosed to the jury during your DUI trial.

If you do not feel that you can pass a field sobriety test or are experiencing other factors that may affect your field sobriety test performance such as poor coordination, illness, nervousness, or medication, then it is usually in your best interests to refuse to take the field sobriety test. It is typically to your advantage to refuse field sobriety tests because these tests are highly subjective, confusing and often difficult even when performed completely sober, are commonly administered incorrectly by the police, are conducted under abnormal conditions, and are judged by a negative scoring technique (the officer deducts points when you do something wrong, but you do not get points added when you do something right). Keep in mind that even if you refuse to take a field sobriety test, an officer can still arrest you for DUI based on his other observations about your demeanor and driving.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale, it is imperative that you immediately seek legal representation with a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of Yale L. Galanter, P.A., a premier Fort Lauderdale criminal defense firm, has the requisite experience to help you fight your DUI and will work every angle possible to get your DUI case dismissed or reduced to a lesser citation to avoid harsh sanctions.

Contact us by email at ali@galanterlaw.com or call us at 305-576-0244 or 954-524-6600 anytime day or night for more information or to set up your consultation with a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer.

If you have been arrested for DUI or traffic crimes such as:

Don’t delay. You need to contact an experienced South Florida attorney, today.

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The Galanter Law website should not be considered as actual legal advice, or legal recommendations. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal, legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements, or online literature. Before you decide on a criminal defense attorney, ask Galanter Law to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience.