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3 Types of Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are a series of physical and mental exercises that an officer will administer to a person they believe is impaired from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If the person’s performance is perceived to be low, an officer will arrest the individual and proceed to file charges. At this point, an individual’s best option is to contact a DUI defense attorney in Tampa.

If you’re pulled over by an officer and suspected of intoxication, an officer may have you perform the following standard field sobriety tests:

The One Leg Stand

During this test, the officer will instruct the individual to raise a foot six inches off the ground and hold that position while counting. The officer will observe to watch for swaying, hopping, or using arms to stay balanced. If the individual exhibits two or more of the behaviors, they will assume the individual is intoxicated.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

Nystagmus is defined as involuntary jerking of the eye. During this test, the officer will instruct the individual to stare at an object such as a pen and follow it from left and to the right. When sober, an individual’s eyes will have no trouble following an object. When intoxicated, the jerking will occur.

The Walk & Turn Test

Officers use this test to determine if an individual can listen and follow directions while performing certain tasks. Examples of the tasks the officer may ask include taking heel-to-steps on a line, pivoting around, and taking the same amount of steps back. The officer will observe to see if the individual is struggling to keep their balance, takes the wrong number of steps, or fails to stay on the line.

Factors That Could Affect Your Test

Although these tests are widely used, there are times when the test is unreliable. The following factors could affect the result of a field sobriety test:

  • • Nervousness, distraction, or fatigue
  • • A physical disability that affects one’s performance of a test
  • • A natural lack of coordination and balance
  • • Where and how a test is performed (i.e., too close to traffic, bad surface, lighting conditions, noise conditions)

It’s important to understand your rights and responsibility as a Florida driver. Under Florida’s implied consent law, driving is considered a privilege, therefore, drivers are expected to consent to approved testing if an officer suspects them of driving impaired. However, if you’ve been stopped and/or arrested without probable cause, seek the assistance of a DUI defense attorney in Tampa immediately.

For a free consultation with an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm at (813) 712-8736 or submit our contact request form.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.